The Commission on Presidential Debates (https://www.debates.org) is a non-profit organizational body run by a board of directors. After looking up some members of their board, I decided to send one of them an email (seriously!) and this is what it said:
Hello Ms. Hernandez,
This is a bit of a shot in the dark, but I just wanted to give a try at a possibility for influence. I looked up the Commission on Presidential Debates and read a little about the organization and the governing board and thought that I would reach out to you. Who knows if you’ll receive this, or read it, or take it into consideration, but I thought I would try.
I really love the thought that our country gives candidates an opportunity stand up, state their beliefs and potentially defend mistruths that might be in the public belief system - but what our debates have become in the Presidential realm are far from that. And it didn’t just start with the mockery of a debate that we saw this week. Candidates have long talked over one another, interrupted each other and ignored the moderator. We know if these debates were in a true debate competition, the candidates - both of them - would have been disqualified and escorted out of the building.
I don’t think your change of rules in the debate format will help - it actually might escalate things because when someone is shutdown (in this form of having their mic turned off) there is the potential of having someone feel like they have no voice which might trigger a reaction of yelling. This update to the format actually is a continued mockery of what is trying to be accomplished - to have the individual represent themselves, speak about their beliefs, values and plan for the country, and perhaps show themselves as an embodiment of the kind of leader we want to represent us in this democracy.
We need to see more than people yelling and talking over one another. We need to see more than people be silenced at the whim of an outside party. We need to see more than even the presentation, defense, and redirection that debates provide. We need the example of dialogue. We need to see our leaders consider what their opponent offers as a thought, the consideration and connection to that thought, and the presentation of a new idea or a question. Dialogue actually can be a model that helps people understand that the fractures that we are experiencing in our nation is not all that has to exist. Having been trained in dialogue, I know that something else is possible. There are many of us in the national that know that dialogue is a form of communication that transforms. Debate just gives the appearance of a fixed mindset. Dialogue offers the opportunity for curiosity and consideration - both of which is what is needed and what needs to be modeled. We need to see that the person with positional power in this country is more than someone who can deliver a quick retort, but rather model reflection, the ability to change their mind and hold the reality of complex thought. Even more than their platforms, these are the skills that I want to see - their platforms tell me little of their skill and only slightly more of their values. I expect more and need the commission to expect more, as well.
Again, who knows if you will read this, but I wanted to give it a try. Please feel free to reach out if you have further thoughts or questions.
take good care,