Fantasy 2020 POTUS Debate Format
After watching as much of the first 2020 POTUS debate as I could handle, I couldn’t help but think about how much it resembled an out-of-control reality TV show and ways that it could be made MUCH more palatable and interesting.
Press to Talk with a Twist
The number of interruptions of the debaters and even the moderator was simply insane. Many people suggested that the moderator should have a mute button, but I think that just opens the debate up for the moderator to be portrayed as a biased participant. To solve this issue (and make the debate more entertaining) I would like the debaters to be in soundproof booths where they will have a Jeopardy-style button to press in order to turn on their microphones to be heard by anyone. They can press it any time they want and their mic will turn on and they can interrupt their opponent or even the moderator, but there’s a catch. The handle and the booth heat up.
- The longer the debater holds down the button when it’s not their turn to speak, the more the handle will heat up.
- The handle only cools down while it’s not the debater’s turn to speak.
- If the debater drops or lets go of their buzzer (like holding it lightly with their fingers or using their sleeve to hold it), they forfeit their next allotted time for rebuttal.
- Starting at 68°F/20°C, the temperature in the booth heats up 1°F/0.56°C every time a debater uses their buzzer to interrupt or holds down the button for more than their allotted time.
- If the debater passes out or is forced to leave their booth, they forfeit the debate entirely and their opponent gets the rest of the time to run whatever programming their campaign chooses.
Fact-Checking with Teath
The sheer number of lies that politicians tell is impressive in most situations, but in 2020 it’s truly staggering. Realtime fact-checking has become popular during speeches and political rallies, but it doesn’t do anything to affect the real-time reality that the politician is lying. I feel like there should be consequences for when politicians lie and the more severe the lie, the more severe the consequences. So let’s make them jump a little by making the button of the buzzer into an electrode that doles out those consequences based on the PolitiFact rating system.
- True — For every 5 true statements, the temperature of the booth will be reduced by 1°F/0.56°C toward baseline.
- Mostly True — Small pin prickle shock️
- Half True — Static shock level
- Mostly False — Weak electric livestock fence
- False — Strong electric livestock fence
- Pants on Fire — Cattle prod
Again, keep in mind the rule from above, if the debater drops their buzzer they forfeit their next allotted time for rebuttal. But if they also let go of the button after their allotted time has begun, they also forfeit the rest of their allotted time.
The truth is that humans are biased creatures. To make the fact-checking as fair as possible, there would need to be a panel of anonymous fact-checkers from various organizations who would determine the level of shock based on an average of their judgments about the level of the lie happens to be. And the panelists would be chosen by the candidates’ picks for Vice President.
Chill, It’s Just a Fantasy
Obviously, very few politicians would ever agree to put this much skin into their game. And the thought that either presidential candidate in 2020 would have the moxie agree to such a format — or even the physical prowess to withstand it — is laughable. But we can dream, can’t we?