If I Ran The Zoo

I’m not sure that anyone, at any point of the political spectrum would consider what our nation witnessed last night under the name of “debate” to be an example of scintillating civic discourse. No one has asked me how to run our national political campaigns, so I thought I’d just present my idea of an interesting debate unasked for. My goals are that it promote real discourse, and that it provide enough entertainment value that people will be likely to watch.

The debate is to be conducted before an audience, with security to escort out anyone who becomes too disruptive. The seating should be in the round, so we can invoke gladiatorial archetypes as we watch the candidates spar.

Each round lasts fifteen minutes. Eight rounds total for a running time of two hours. The format for each round is as follows:

The candidate leading this round opens with a three minute statement on a topic of his choice. This opponent then has three minutes to respond. There are then nine minutes of back-and-forth.

The candidates alternate leading rounds, so each will want to have 8-10 topics prepared that he can select from based on what comes up in the rounds his opponent leads.

Each candidate is issued with a microphone and a remote buzzer/switch, both wireless so they can move around the room. At the beginning of each round, each candidate gets 7.5 minutes loaded on his clock. When he’s talking, his clock counts down. When he’s done, he hits an “off” button which switches off his mic and stops his clock, starting the other candidates clock and turning on his mic.

During the two initial three minutes stretches, the candidate who is “on” has the floor until he hits his “off” button. If he has time left at the end of his initial presentation, he keeps that time for the back-and-forth period.

During the back-and-forth either candidate can hit his “talk” button which sounds a buzzer, turns his opponent’s mic off, and starts his own clock. If one candidate runs out of time on bank, he is “off” for the rest of the round while his opponent gets the last word. If both candidates hit the “off” twice during back-and-forth they end the round and the remaining minutes go into an “overtime” bank which will be available at the end of the debate.

Sound like fun?

5 Responses to If I Ran The Zoo

  1. cminor says:

    The Onion had proposed one 15 second choking session per side.
    Seriously, though, I’d kinda like to see some variation (to allow for multiple questions) of standard collegiate debate format employed for these. It would liven things up!

  2. Daddio says:

    Works for me. I literally fell asleep watching the last one (might have been the wine). So boring, repeating the same crap, pretending to ignore Brokaw so they could keep talking past time. My wife and I both agreed that their microphones should be shut off when they ran out of time.

  3. Tito Edwards says:

    I hear Bob Schieffer is “center-right”. Is he going to be a moderator for any debate?

    Or is Scooter (whom suggested this) just being a goofball.

  4. Ryan Harkins says:

    I don’t know about the part of one candidate being able to silence the other. That seems to lend itself to abuse. And I know part of the problem with any debate (especially those I have with my wife) is that if one candidate can interrupt another candidate whenever, then points are never made, and it devolves into petty bickering. I’d suggest having at least a little delay, like ten seconds, for a candidate to finish his point before his mike goes off and his opponent responds.

  5. That’s a fair point, Ryan. My theory was that they would have an incentive not to abuse it lest they come off as jerks. Hard to say, though.

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