When the League of Woman Voters ran them, the debates had substance. But that was almost twenty years ago. Now, they are run by the tv stations and the campaigns. When the League stopped, they predicted, “It has become clear to us that the candidates’ organizations aim to add debates to their list of campaign-trail charades devoid of substance, spontaneity and answers to tough questions. The League has no intention of becoming an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American public.”
Somewhat surprisingly John Anderson of ABC News has created a petition to make the debates follow the Oxford rules — to formally argue resolutions like “Resolved: The United States Should Withdraw from NATO,” in which the candidates would make brief opening and closing statements and in the time remaining question one another about the issue at hand, under strict time guidelines. You should sign the petition here.