Dump the Debate: Let’s Have a Contest!

I’m fed up with the debates.  The posturing and the pointing, the incessant smirks and endless CNN commentary.  Tired of wondering why both presidential candidates are so thin and so sick to death of their words, I could spit.

So I’m suggesting that instead of the next debate, we have a contest.  Let’s say a three-part test to see who is the most capable, competent person.

Test #1:  The candidate, using only available community resources and not his own wealth or connections, who can get a middle-aged homeless man with no job, and serious addiction and mental health issues into safe, stable permanent housing with a sustainable income first wins the first round. Bonus points for a non-violent criminal history, no high school diploma or a learning disability, dealer’s choice.

This test goes right to the candidate’s ingenuity and persuasiveness.  Can he connect with the homeless man?  Can he convince him to accept help?  Can he figure out what he needs first and what can wait?  And then how does he decide where to go for help?  When there’s a 2-year waiting list for housing, how does he get his guy in next month?  How does he convince the employer to forgive a criminal record.  How does he keep the homeless guy trusting him through all this?

Test #2: Each candidate goes to a cabin in the mountains for 48 hours with two young men – say age 20-24 – one a Palestinian and the other an Israeli.  The candidate, without using force, coercion, or bribery, who emerges with a signed agreement that each man agrees that it’s ok for the other man to marry his sister should they happen to meet and fall in love wins this round.

This is a test of deep listening and talking and of a candidate’s ability to realize that all politics are personal.  Can he get the two young, probably pretty volatile, guys to think about the bigger picture?  Put themselves in each other’s shoes?  See their place in the world?  Big test, this one.

Test #3: Each candidate, using only what would be found in the average suburban garage, must invent something that would significantly improve the lives of subsistence farmers in Africa for the better.  The one whose invention is judged most useful by said farmers wins this round.

To have a good invention, the candidate will have to go listen to the farmers.  And study their methods.  And appreciate their culture.  And be modest, humble, yet creative and ambitious.  Arrogance won’t work here.  Only careful listening, planning, execution, and feedback.  This applies to so much it makes my head spin.

Do we know what skills one needs to be a good President?  I only know that it’s about more than talking, bragging, lying, and cajoling.  Can, for once, the proof really be in the pudding?

Could we ask these guys to make some damn pudding for us and let us taste it?

Is that so nuts?

4 Comments on “Dump the Debate: Let’s Have a Contest!

  1. A friend was telling about her middle school classroom. It’s an exceptional program, and kids run businesses. They needed to elect a CEO and there were two candidates: the girl with the resume, the one who imagines, plans, manages, directs, follows through, helps others–and the boy who is astonishingly awkward, doesn’t get his work done, does not appear to be bright but distracted (just distracted), is mocked by the other boys. But there are more boys in the class than girls, and guess who the class elected its CEO? Something deeply off here, and most places we visit.

    • One assumes the boy won or this Q would not have been posed. It is a sad reflection on the English speaking world that it is obsessed with feminist/sexist issues. In Western Europe we recgnise that women have been behind most major political, military and financial decisions for the past 2,000 years and only when their advice has been igored or ridiculed have major wars broken out. There will soon be a female head of state in the US, Britain has a female Head of state and a woman PM while Germany has a female president. I really don’t see what the fuss is about.

      • Thanks for the perspective. Honestly, it really does seem like we are centuries behind a lot of the world.

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