Today, baseball holds its mid-season All-Star game. Which got me to thinking... maybe politics should put on a similar extravaganza, at least every two years while we're gearing up for election season.
All year long, every year, the American public is exposed to a vast universe of politicians speaking their minds, most often on television shows that encourage feisty responses. So would it be such a leap to put together the best from each side in the summer before an election? Rather than watching B-team politicians who can't even remember their talking points and think on their feet, wouldn't it be fun to pit the best against the best, in a grand debate spectacle on prime-time television?
In the run-up to the event, certain "players" would be nominated and voted upon by the public, similar to how baseball decides who goes to the big game each year. The "coaches" might be the chairs of the Democratic and Republican national committees (their party leaders, in other words). Assemble an All-Star team for each party consisting of perhaps 20 or 30 politicians who excel at explaining their party's position.
Figuring on a two-hour moderated debate (similar to a presidential primary season debate), put three people from each team at a table, and pit them against each other. Every fifteen minutes would be a commercial break, providing eight "innings" where the coaches can make substitutions to their team of three. Perhaps select eight subjects for these innings in advance, so the coaches would know who to put on the stage for each issue (if one player is exceptionally good on, say, foreign policy, then they'd get substituted in for that discussion, for example).
Bill the whole thing as the "Democrats Versus Republicans All-Star Debate" and I bet plenty of people would tune in. What better chance would the public have of watching the parties debate their philosophies and policy agendas, rather than merely watching the two men who want to be president?
Some might scoff at such a notion, and posit that it would merely contribute to the coarsening of our political debate for the public to select the politicians who excel at yapping at each other on cable television. I disagree. What is politics, after all, but convincing people you know what is best for the country, with words? What is parliamentary debate in Congress but a wider version of such an idea? Politicians have all year long to trade rhetorical blows with each other in the media, and on the floors of Congress. So why shouldn't we set one night apart to see the best of each team go at it in a structured environment? How would it really be all that different? OK, it would be over-hyped, that's pretty much a given. But I still bet plenty of people would tune in. If the idea catches on, in later years we can work on expanding it to a "home run derby" the day before the debate.
Maybe this is all just one of those mid-summer daydreams. I'm certainly open to the possibility. I do tend to be prone to these flights of fancy a lot more when the weather's warm, I will fully admit. But even so, the more I consider the idea, the better it sounds. Let's have an All-Star Debate! Let's have the rising stars of each party explain their party position and explain why the other party's position would be a disaster. Hold the event in the middle of the August congressional vacation, so it doesn't interfere with their few-and-far-between days when they are actually supposed to be working.
It'd be fun for the whole family! At the very least, it would give pundits like yours truly something interesting to write about during the summer political doldrums. Which, as far as I'm concerned, is reason enough to stage such an event.
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