2016 has brought us what one can only hope is the nadir of American electoral politics. We are now two weeks away from the first presidential debates, so it’s time to look at ways we might make them watchable.
Of course, one of the things rendering the debates unwatchable from year to year, cycle to cycle, is the same staid journalists asking the same staid questions. It’s time to get some life, and cultural relevance, into the debates. To that end, here are seven choices for moderator that would be better than a journalist.
1 and 2. Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir
The very names are enough to make one sit up and take notice, knowing that we are about to be entertained. Figure skaters Lipinksi and Weir, once Olympians in their own right, took the 2014 Sochi winter Olympics by storm with their serious figure skating commentary as well as their sometimes outlandish sartorial choices. Tara was adorable. Johnny was a delight, overtly watching himself in the television monitors and preening, but we didn’t even care. They were just that fun to watch.
We saw the duo again at the Academy Awards, the Kentucky Derby, The National Dog Show and, recently, the Olympic summer games in Rio. At the latter event, Weir referred to the team as “cultural attaches,” which, let’s face it, the debates could use.
3. The Judges of ‘The Shark Tank’
While the judges of “Shark Tank” are usually asked to find the best ideas in which to invest their money, this would give America a change to see which ideas could earn the ultimate investment: their vote. These are people who know how to build something that works and can see through the smokescreen of nonsense that fogs the average pitch, whether in business or politics. These are successful individuals who got that way by knowing which risks were worth taking.
Plus, when they start to prevaricate on the answers and skirt the truth, you know Mark Cuban isn’t going to let it slide.
4. Kanye West
Kanye is a cultural touchstone who takes on important issues like the responsibility inherent to errant water bottles.
Isn’t it time we expected our presidents to climb down from their ivory towers and discuss the things that matter to Kanye Americans? I just hope the networks can get the right furniture for the events.
A man who can handle a house load of Kardashian women can certainly wrangle politicians for an evening. Just be careful, candidates. You know how quickly his mood can change if your response isn’t to his liking.
5. The Judges of ‘The Voice’
What if we had Carson Daly ask the questions, and candidates had to give an answer compelling enough to turn a chair in order to come back after the commercial break? The answers would be succinct and compelling, and the broadcast would be endlessly more entertaining.
The coaches represent a variety of backgrounds and interests, and each is looking for something different, so if a candidate can’t win over even one it’s probably best he goes back to singing for his supper at a grassroots level.
6. Charles Barkley
In the interest of representing a variety of interests to reach the widest audience, I suggest we also add a moderator from the world of sports. Who better than Charles Barkley? He’s funny, smart, and opinionated, and not afraid to say what’s on his mind. This is one moderator who won’t mince words, not matter who the target.
It’s hard to tell where Barkley stands politically. Having left the Republican Party, Barkley decided Democrats weren’t for him either, and has recently taken issue with both Donald Trump (along with Trump supporters) and Black Lives Matter. An independent thinker who isn’t scared to take the heat? Yes, please. Let’s get him in the moderator’s seat and see what happens.
7. Coach Eric Taylor of ‘Friday Night Lights’
Of course, there is only one person who should be entrusted with the questions that will guide our nation. There’s only man to be our moral compass, our guide through the muck that is 2016, and that man is Coach Eric Taylor of “Friday Night Lights.”
Here’s hoping he’s doing debate prep with the best candidate.