Lend me your ears.
We the people will be choosing a president. You want to be the nominee from your party. You claim ideologies, beliefs, experience, wisdom, and the personal fortitude to realize them. Your fellow candidates have their own variations on those themes. I want to hear you articulate them and differentiate yourself, so that each party may determine their nominee.
You can't do that in thirty-second responses to poorly-premised questions when you also have to get in an elevator pitch and a sound bite setting Twitter all a-titter. The nomination process should be reality, not a reality show.
So here's what I want for your party debating process Republicans and Democrats and others:
- I want two hours
- I want a round table
- I want at most four of you around that table at a time*
- I want decorum befitting a candidate seeking the nomination of their party. There shall be no need for a moderator
- I want a topic card to be drawn from the hat and half an hour of open discussion. If you beat the horse dead, pull the next topic
- I want you to repeat this four times before your party's convention
- The role of and responsibilities of government
- Economics. Not the economy, but economics
- Foreign policy, Foreign events
- Our form of government... civics 101. Local, state, federal, branches, parliamentary procedures, dirty pool. We the people need to hear it, and we need to hear that you understand these things.
- Budgets, deficits, debt
- Tax policy
- The Environment
- Environmentalism (file under religion, other)
- Provide you with the opportunity to shine
- Make it difficult for you to hide
- Provide you with the opportunity to learn
- Provide you with the opportunity to expand upon and explore a topic in depth
- Provide the audience with the opportunity to absorb and reason, compare and contrast
- Cause alliances to be formed
- Expose rogues and villains
- Educate (remember, education is the most important thing ever!)
- Amaze the world
Leadership can be recognized by initiative, by service, and even by going against the norm. We the people are starving for substance and quality. We are starving for quantity as well. We can't discern a shyster in a soundbite, but if you give us eight hours of you, you'll get two solid hours of your voice making your points.
You aren't beholden to the networks for reach. Through today's technology you can broadcast a message of any length and of any topic you wish. An event of significance will draw an audience. You and your message are significant, right?
You aren't beholden to the media. They are merely a channel. If you don't feed that channel, the best they can do is talk about you and, in the mean time, starve. Word-of-mouth bypasses that channel. It's called social media.
You are beholden to the processes and caucuses and delegates and deliberations and the back-room smoking-room strong arm politics of your party. So be it. Politics are ugly.
You are beholden to the voters.
You want to serve the greatest country in the world? You'd better lay yourself bare. As a candidate, you know that you must capture the attention of American voters. If you and your peers can't collectively agree with the party and negotiate with the media for this format, then three or four of you should go out on your own. When Americans don't like something, they are free to go out and do it better on their own. It's what we do. It's what we want leaders to do.
You're not going to lose the nomination and bow out of a race because you couldn't game the reality show that is a modern "debate," are you?
*If you're worried about fairness, which group goes first, and other concerns to which any adult would remind you "life isn't fair," then it's one-potato, two-potato, three-potato, four, and off you go into your separate rooms. Put them up on Netflix and let people watch them in their own order and on their big screen in 5.1 Dolby Surround.
**Note that these topics are high level; I don't want to discuss what who said about who and what they did last week. I want you to articulate and defend what you believe