Debate Rules

The Commission on Presidential Debates has adopted new rules for the next presidential debate, choosing to mute each candidate’s microphone during his opponent’s initial answer to each new question. That strikes me as a decent start, but I think the commission still has a long way to go to ensure the best possible debate environment for the American voters. 

Not only should Trump and Biden be muted during their rival’s answers, but also during their own answers. Furthermore, they should be muted during the open discussion time on each topic, as well as during opening and closing remarks. Better yet, the moderator too should be muted throughout the debate. To create the best deliberative space for the weighing of electoral options, it would perhaps be prudent to mute the entire television broadcast system airing the debate, so as to ensure that even if there is a technical mishap and someone’s microphone is left unmuted for a moment by mistake, any sounds issuing from that unmuted entity during that moment will never be allowed to disturb the meditative silence of the voters at home.

That would be the debate environment the American people would demand, if they were worthy of it. What they actually deserve, however, is the exact opposite: every microphone cranked to full volume at all times, so as never to let them forget that the mindless noise overwhelming their lives and drowning out every potential thought is the cacophonous political world they have chosen, of their own free will.

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