Elwood’s Debate Structure

Can “debates” with 6+ candidates work? Tonight’s did not, IMHO. And I suspect that, even with a less stupid and malicious questioner than Brian Williams, it would still have been frustrating.

The attempt to cover a lot of ground and give every candidate equal access means no candidate can do a good job of explaining any issue.

Herewith a proposed format and structure to address that.

  1. The debate will be limited to four topics, each of which is fairly broad. Example topics: a) Iraq / foreign policy; b) health care; c) environment; d) justice (gay rights / abortion / prosecutors).

  2. There will be three minute speaking slots and 30-second slots for each topic
  3. Each candidate will rank his/her choices for 3-minute topic slots
  4. Trying to accommodate candidate choices as closely as possible, the organizers will select four candidates for long answers and four for short answers for each topic
  5. The formal topic answers will thus take 14 minutes each. Allow 1 minute for the question itself, and the topics take one hour (no commercials)
  6. Add less-structured Q&A for a full 90 minutes

If candidate A wants to develop a platform around health care, this helps. If candidate B wants to focus on the war, this helps.

Tweaks, critiques?

  • Nicholas Gunn

    Is single topic debates.

    I mean, there are going to be six ‘sanctioned’ debates.

    Lets have two whole hours on Iraq Policy.  We need it, I think, because sound bites and ‘show of hands’ isn’t working.

    Two hours on Global Warming and Environmental policy.  I think the seriousness of the issue warrants it.

    What else could use a whole two hour debate?

    • Dean Barker

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