I am a very reluctant debater. I definitely don’t think I’m the best debater around, and I also don’t think that debates are very good at resolving differences or even necessarily clarifying ideas. I’ve put together a set of my personal debate requirements that are just as much intended to discourage casually drafting me into debates as they are to making it as productive and informative a process as possible.
But I am lackadaisical and encouraging compared to the current crop of Republican presidential candidates. Take a look at their demands.
- Will there be questions from the audience or social media? How many? How will they be presented to the candidates? Will you acknowledge that you, as the sponsor, take responsibilities for all questions asked, even if not asked by your personnel?
- Will there be a gong/buzzer/bell when time is up? How will the moderator enforce the time limits?
- Will you commit that you will not:
- Ask the candidate to raise their hands to answer a question
- Ask yes/no questions without time to provide a substantive answer
- Allow candidate-to-candidate questioning
- Allow props or pledges by the candidates
- Have reaction shots of members of the audience or moderators during debates
- Show an empty podium after a break (describe how far away the bathrooms are)
- Use behind shots of the candidates showing their notes
- Leave microphones on during the breaks
- Allow members of the audience to wear political messages (shirts, buttons, signs, etc.). Who enforces?
- What is the size of the audience? Who is receiving tickets in addition to the candidates? Who’s in charge of distributing those tickets and filling the seats?
- What instructions will you provide the audience about cheering during the debate?
- What are your plans for the lead-in to the debate (Pre-shot video? Announcer to moderator? Director to Moderator?) and how long is it?
- What type of microphones (lavs or podium)?
- Can you pledge that the temperature in the hall be kept below 67 degrees?
Let’s be honest. That isn’t a set of requests to set the stage for a debate: it’s a bunch of pointless demands to a) completely discourage any kind of debate and give candidates an out to run away, and b) defining a different kind of event that doesn’t involve anyone asking questions, but gives candidates an opportunity to recite their stump speeches.
I know. Like I said, I try to discourage people from inviting me to debates (get Matt Dillahunty or Aron Ra instead), so I recognize exactly what they’re doing here.