After two presidential and one vice-president debate, there may not be a clear winner, but there is no doubt who is the loser. The loser of the Debates is the moderators and the Commission on Presidential Debates.
It is time that we start treating the Presidential Debates like an NFL game. NFL games draw huge audiences nationwide, as do the Presidential Debates.
NFL games pit one team and their fans against another. While there are those who may watch the game because of the love of the game, the vast majority of those who are watching the game are cheering for one of the two teams to win. The Presidential Debates pits the leading candidates from each of the political parties against each other. While there are many undecided voters who tune in to help make their decision, the vast number of people who watch the entire debate from start to finish are going to be political junkies who have clear biases towards their preferred candidate.
Before an NFL game starts, there is a lot of preparation put in by the fans who host tailgate or game day parties. During the Presidential Debates, there are debate watch parties across the nation, filled with people who are cheering for their favorite candidate to do well.
Before and after an NFL game, there are professionals who help their listeners understand what to expect and what happened during the game. Before and after a Presidential Debate, the news channels are preparing their listeners for what to expect and what happened during the debate.
During an NFL game, the fans of the game turn to social media to talk about the game. They cheer when their team does something good and they complain when they feel that there has been an unfair call. During the Presidential Debate, millions of watchers were on social media cheering their candidate and sharing their feelings.
The NFL has unbiased officials who are in the game to enforce the rules that have been agreed to by the league, the teams, and the players. In the presidential debates, the Commission on Presidential Debates sets the rules, but the chairman of the Republican and Democratic parties do not have a seat at the table during the discussions.
An NFL referee is not allowed to officiate a game in which they have an affinity towards one of the teams. However, the Commission on Presidential Debate has selected moderators who have expressed biases.
If an NFL referee fails to properly apply the rules to the game, the referee can be punished by the league. However, the Commission on Presidential Debate has never had a press release condemning how one of their moderators failed to follow the published rules.
During an NFL game, the fans are able to watch the replays and immediately make judgments as to whether the referees are calling a fair game. In the Presidential Debates, there are thousands of political pundits who are quick to espouse their opinions about what happened in the debate. Furthermore, there are thousands of political junkies who will analyze how many times a moderator interrupts each candidate, how much time each candidate had to respond, and how negative or positive are the questions that were asked.
It is time to stop kidding ourselves that the media is an unbiased referee of political debates. We would be better off bringing in the “man off the street” to officiate the debates. However, with as much money that is involved in a presidential campaign, we really should be able to find debate officials who can follow the rules and make sure the debate is fair to both sides.
Personally, I think it is funny that the NFL owners have a place at the table to determine the rules of the game, but the political party chairmen have allowed themselves to be omitted from the process. Maybe four years from now, a candidate or party should boycott the debates until the Commission changes the system so that “We the People” can actually have an unbiased debate.
We get to watch a fair football game, why can’t we watch a fair debate?