Ladies and Gentlemen,
We are living in an era fraught with conflict. The global financial system is falling to pieces. Millions of Americans lack the basic health coverage they need. The dangers of manmade climate change are becoming more apparent every day, and our nation lies without a reliable plan for getting the energy it will require simply to maintain a mid-20th century standard of living, let alone a 21st century one. Our leaders and press have abandoned the principles that made this nation great and transformed this land of hope, unity and free will into one ruled by fear, partisanship and oppression.
This November’s election will set the tone for the next chapter of the American Destiny. It is, without a doubt, the most important election of the last several generations. The two candidates, Barack Obama and John McCain, are diametrically opposed on most issues, as usually happens in a two-party system, no matter the mindsets of the majority of voters.
These two individuals will only meet face-to-face three times during the course of this campaign, at a trio of debates broadcast on live television. Three times. Only thrice will Americans be able to perform a head-to-head comparison of the two men who are up for the highest office in the land.
But there’s one problem:
The debates are so goddamn boring.
I mean, do you think Joe Sweatsock/Six-Pack/Izuzu can sit there and watch two people talk for an hour and a half straight? Hell, odds are good he can’t sit through an episode of Law and Order if the courtroom scene is longer than normal! We’ve been raised by the Jerry Bruckheimer school of entertainment – where’s the flash, the pizzaz, the rapidly rotating cameras, slow-mo explosons and sexy chicks with guns?
Well, okay, fine, we’re one for three there. But is Sarah Palin gonna load up her .30-06 and head over to Pakistan to personally hunt down, kill and field-dress Osama bin Ladin? I doubt it. (Fox News, I sense Emmy material here – just find a cameraman who can follow her. I suggest Grizzly Adams. Or that kid from Into The Wild.) So we’ve got to find a way to make these debates more interesting, so the vast majority of Americans who don’t vote…
…hang on, I’m having trouble typing because of the vibrations – the Founding Fathers are all spinning in their graves…
…whew! It passed. Anyway, we need to make it interesting. So, here’s a few ideas for livening up the debates:
- Improv. For each question, the moderator pulls from a hat an activity the candidate must perform while answering; for example, “Hop on one foot,” “do the macarena,” or “pretend you’re being chased by Hovitos.”
- Props. Now some of you out there might say, “Wait a minute, this isn’t new! Ross Perot had his charts during the 1992 election!” Well, that is true. But what you’re forgetting is that Ross Perot doesn’t matter. Besides, charts are boring. Accountants use charts. I’m talking baseball bats, golf clubs, stepladders, samurai swords, guitars, oil barrels, chainsaws, squirt guns, and anything else they can get off of eBay small enough to fit on stage with the candidates.
- Color. Not only are the debates boring to listen to, they’re boring on the eyes. The stage is always the same bland shades of red, white and blue. Let’s get some florescent greens in there! Some neon orange, Day-Glo yellow, phosphorescent purple, so on and so forth. And don’t just paint the lecterns and the walls in solid colors – splatter the stuff around like Jackson Pollock was in charge! In fact, just have a couple interns walk out just before the debate starts and throw paint all over the stage. Of course, the candidates and moderator must be present at this time.
- Attire. The candidates always wear the same two-piece suits to these things, and it’s boring as hell. Middle Americans fucking hate suits! For the average American, the only time they have to wear a suit is for weddings (boring once you’re married) and funerals (depressing), and the people who wear suits all the time aren’t the kind of person Joe Sweatsock likes. You know who wears a suit every day? Car salesmen. Stockbrokers. Insurance agents. And of course, politicians. The loathed. If the candidates want to reach out to the voters, they shouldn’t dress like someone who looks down at them from behind a desk. Let’s have a Casual Friday debate, so they can come in in chinos and sweaters. How about a vacation-theme debate, so they can finally use those linen pants and tropical silk shirts they bought before they realized Hawaii wasn’t a swing state? Or a Halloween debate, so they can come in dressed up in whatever costume they want? You can learn a lot about somebody by who they dress up as for Halloween. (And I know the LGBT vote is pretty much solidly locked up already, but this would be a chance for all those stuffy Republicans to finally give into their closeted desires and cross-dress. Can you imagine a Halloween-theme Republican primary debate? “Wow, Joe, we’ve never had six candidates dress up like Dr. Frank-N-Furter before!”) Or hell, at least relax the dress code to give them a little more freedom with the suits they usually wear. I want somebody to wear the half-and-half suit Tommy Lee Jones wore in Batman Forever. Say it’s to show how you want to bridge the divide, or something.
- Animals. No politician wants to be seen as anti-environment, even if their voting records shows a contempt for the natural world similar to the disdain usually reserved for ten-mile traffic jams and six-hour John Tesh concerts. So how about bringing out a few living friends for them to coddle in front of the cameras? Imagine how perfect it would be if Dick Cheney were stroking a cat on his lap during a debate. But I’m not just limiting it to household pets or barnyard critters – let’s bring out Jack Hanna’s whole fuckin’ menagerie. Let’s have a Siberian tiger roam the stage as it likes – I don’t care how big your ego is, if a 400-lb cat wants your seat, you’re giving the damn thing up. Have some monkeys in the front row, so the politicians can see what it really means to have shit thrown at them. We’ll need a couple small, inquisitive mammals who love to run around and are likely to climb up somebody’s pants – that’s good for a few minutes of fun. And we certainly have to find out what animal each politician is most afraid of, then release the biggest, ugliest version of it in the hall without telling them beforehand in hopes that it’ll spring out at an opportune moment. these guys say they can handle crises – let’s see how they take it when a three-inch tarantula crawls up their leg.
- Danger. There’s no drama to these things, because there’s no risk! Even on some goofy reality show, there’s always a risk somebody’s gonna get maimed, pass out, or vomit all over somebody. (Although to be fair, sometimes it’s just because the host lacks personal hygiene. I’ve heard Jeff Foxworthy smells like an abandoned refrigerator filled with roadkill. They actually smear Vicks VapoRub over the nostrils of contestants on his show.) Let’s have the floor electrified, and the amount of current flowing through it is controlled by the audience. If they don’t like what the candidate’s saying, they can click a button that incrementally increases the amperage; the more people dissatisfied, the hotter the floor. That’ll teach them to respect the will of the people. Also, these guys have absolutely no respect for the time limits of the debate – let’s fix that. Maybe the ceiling begins descending when the candidate starts speaking, and the longer they speak, the closer it gets to their heads. Talk too long, and they have to start crouching over or sitting on the floor; talk way too long, and suddenly it’s a one-candidate race! Or maybe something a little more low-tech, you know, to save some money. How about this: once a candidate goes over the time limit, a midget comes out and punches him in the nutsack.
- Combat. This is a bit extreme, I admit, but let’s be fair: how many of us out there have thought, “Why couldn’t the world’s leaders just fight one-on-one instead of having wars?” This is just an extension of that line of reasoning. It would only be undertaken in cases where the race was very, very close, and the verbal sparring wasn’t having any effect on anyone. In that case, I don’t think many Americans would be opposed to a well-organized fight. We can start out simple – fists only, no hitting below the belt, first one down for a ten-count loses – and as each round progresses, get more intense; kickboxing, UFC, and eventually get up to knife-fighting or swordplay. In the event that the election itself ends up being another clusterfuck like it was in 2000, we can bust out the dueling pistols. Imagine that – the two presidential candidates, after a grueling, contentious campaign that tore the country apart, end it once and for all back to back on the White House lawn, each holding a loaded gun, waiting to take ten steps, turn, and take their opponent’s life in order to fulfill their dream of achieving the presidency.