The recent presidential and vice presidential debates have been closely watched by the American Public. In an era when television has moved away from serials, dramas and sit-coms in favor of reality TV, and the major media outlets have moved from watchdog journalism to entertainment news, we should consider replacing the State of the Union Address and infrequent press conferences with live debates.
Our presidents and congressional leaders have failed to serve their constituents, allowing gridlock and partisan feuds to rule the day. Instead of feeling hopeless, awaiting the next election cycle to see if a true leader can emerge, why not demand that they debate the issues they all claim they want to solve? Instead of pawns we could become participants in the live drama by becoming far more aware of what is going on in our nation’s capital.
At least once per year the president should spend an hour-and-a-half debating major issues with a member of the opposing party, such as the Speaker of the House or Senate Majority Leader, and explain what they are doing or why they haven’t accomplished the many promises they so adamantly told us they would accomplish if elected. This would give each side a stage to bring the compelling issues before the American public. Nowhere to hide, nowhere to run. They can call each other liars and insist the facts have been twisted, but the major issues of the day would be front and center and in full view of the American public instead of presented at staged, scripted events.
Take for example the current issues swirling around the now confirmed terrorist attack in Benghazi. How much would we know today were it not for the debates and upcoming elections? The press didn’t demand accountability until more details were coming out as a result of the debates. How serious are presidential appearances and interviews on shows like the View, late night comedy shows or Entertainment Tonight? Our nation’s leaders have been able to hide behind subordinates and entertainment celebrities instead of facing the nation and responding publicly and personally to their critics.
Dan Alexander is publisher and CEO of Denton Publications. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.