The St. Paul Pioneer Press has a great editorial on why we should ditch the current presidential debates and return to the old way, calling them “scripted affairs at which the candidates rarely engage in anything close to a debate.” Full story in Return to old-style presidential debates:
Presidential debates are often the one chance most Americans have to see the candidates in extended action before the election, outside of 15-second sound bites, and can have an effect on the vote. Razor sharp comments can raise a candidate’s standing (Ronald Reagan’s zinger about Walter Mondale’s “youth and inexperience” in 1984). Bone-headed answers (think of Michael Dukakis’s fumbling response to the hypothetical murder of his wife) can sound the death knell.
The two parties have succeeded in one thing: They have limited their candidates’ exposure. In 1980, six in 10 American households tuned in to the presidential debates. Last election, the audience had been cut in half.
I completely agree with the assessment and think that a Democrat and Republican controlled debate program is just begging for exclusion of other candidates.
You can also check out Open Debates, which is a movement to provide an alternative to the controlled format. Be sure to sign the petition too.