Wednesday, October 9, 2019



I don't pretend to be an expert at many things but after moderating dozens of political debates at every level in forums ranging from Nathan Phillip Square to TV studios, I really do understand how the best debates come to be.
Let me declare without expecting any valid objection that what we're experiencing is so inane it would be a miracle if they helped one voter.
That farce involving what was billed as the political "leaders" of Canada was so bad that I kept flipping to other channels but then coming back to see if this verbal mess had sunk even further into a swamp of horrors.
Then we have the American versions featuring most of the registered Democrats and a media desperate to fill the endless news cycle.
Too many candidates! Too many moderators! Too much emphasis on timing! As a result you have candidates under the pressures of the clock and the others talking over top of them resorting to the talking points that they can recite in their sleep.
If you have more than four candidates in a debate, you have a problem.
If you have more than one moderator for  a debate, you have a problem, especially if each moderator wants to show off how clever they are with words. A moderator should be like a traffic cop at an accident: Keep the vehicles moving and not give preference to any lane.
The smart candidates are going to talk about what they want to get across so the question from a moderator is really not a probe but just a trigger for the topic. Any moderator who wants to make a rep should realize they are the least important person and the voters don't really give a damn about them.
Don't give me guff about fairness, democracy and all that because the blunt reality is that what most of the audience wanted the other night was to compare the Liberal, Tory and NDP leaders because they are the only ones who have the remotest chance of forming a government.
The other three aren't even window dressing on the process. It's just a waste for us to listen to tales about an unrealistic world of electric everything where one of the great economic drivers of our country, oil, should be sacrificed on the international altar of activists.
What we need is depth to the arguments because currently even a fish pond is made to appear an ocean. It benefits the shallow actor, like the drama queen from the stage world of costumes, makeup and sincerity in a can who is the latest gLiberal to try to spend their way to our popularity.
A good debate has the only candidates with a real chance debating issues for more than a minute a pop. It should take several hours. Any time a electronic device detects two people talking at the same time their microphones should be shut off.  The leaders can even sneak in their five-minute stump speech at the end just in case any voter hasn't heard it already. This would be a reward for them actually baring themselves publicly to the slings and arrows of outrageous opposition in an assault that lasts longer than a quip.
Of course it will never happen. And so I will never watch one completely since I no longer have to.
Oh no, the CBC would have a hissy fit, along with the sanctimonious Star, and myriad commentators and PC professors would trumpet that it is more important to have a garbled debate that really isn't watched than a lean version that might reveal something about the leaders.
All hail the politically correct political process in North America where anyone who can mouth a trite slogan about the environment and saving seals and banning drink straws and the joys of bike lanes can shove their way into a debate in front of an audience which then mentally heads for the exit.
So we have 28 people run for mayor of Toronto, and most of the known world competes to be the Democratic nominee for U.S. president, and people are so revulsed by these phoney debates, histrionics and posturing in today's shallow politics that we have blithering fools running the States and Britain.
One reason for the revulsion is all these people who think they should run for office because they can run for office. What we need is more critics who don't suffer fools gladly. If public resources are going to be used for a debate, the public has a right to demand that only those who really have a chance should be included.  Let the chuckleheads go argue in a bar or lineup to be interviewed by the CBC.
Right now, the admission bar requiring some glimpse in the polls or number of candidates in a party has been set too low. So the debates are crowded with more clamouring to get in. The chaos on the stage means you're lucky to hear even a coherent boast. So I spend my time instead watching very old reruns of M*A*S*H.
At least there they get a chance to operate on each other!

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