With two remarkably similar presidential debates already completed, some, like the Boston Globe’s Michael A. Cohen, called to scrap the third debate. Cohen claims that canceling the third debate is a rational action because the American public is not going to get a useful debate anyway.
In the definition of debate, Google includes the adjective “formal.” Unfortunately, the only formal aspect of the first two debates was the candidates’ clothing choices. Their words did not hold up the debates as a space for meaningful discussion.
With Trump and Clinton having faced off twice already, what is the point of a third debate?
One of the most important aspects of this final debate is the moderator: Chris Wallace of Fox News. It is a truth almost universally acknowledged that Fox News is a right-leaning network. This moderator should bring an interesting element to the third debate.
However, unless Wallace shows a clear bias in his moderation (which would be highly unprofessional), this final debate still won’t change much. Clinton and Trump are two candidates that don’t seem to change based on scenario — Clinton is composed and directs audiences to her website to look at her policy when she doesn’t want to explain it in full; and Trump sticks to a limited number of talking points no matter what question is asked.
To achieve something truly different in this final debate, the debate commission should have allowed third-party candidates to participate. Both Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party and Jill Stein of the Green Party would make meaningful contributions to the discussion.
Americans don’t want to vote for either of these two options, so allowing other candidates a place to present their platform only makes sense. But it will not happen, not this election year.
Maybe, as an audience, we need to take a closer look at the debates actually mean. I propose that it’s not necessarily about the debate itself but about setting aside a certain time to learn about the issues and how the candidates feel about them.
So maybe we should schedule a fourth debate. Pick a time, any time that fits your schedule, and sit down in front of a computer for an hour and half — the run-time of a debate. Google the candidates, all of them. See where they stand and how their beliefs compare to yours.
And this fourth debate is assured to be the most useful of all.