Listening to last night’s half-debate, I had a little bit of an epiphany:
There are too many people on the stage, talking about too many takes on what seemed to me—maybe not, but it seemed to me—a comparatively limited number of issues.
Consider the number of takes on a health care plan—2? 3? More?
The problem is that there are just too many damn variables.
So why don’t we try something a little different—why don’t we separate people and issues for a while?
I know that sounds strange, but isn’t this even stranger? That we have different people with different ideas competing at once both for their personal quality and for their ideas?
We could start by caucusing (somehow) on the issues. Decide—what health plan do Democrats support? What is the environmental plan? What, in short, is the Democratic platform?
We could have a series of debates and discussions, unhindered by the fight of the potential candidates for “the nom.”
Start by having the candidates (not their staffs) write position papers. Brief—maybe one or two pages double-spaced. Each position paper would be on a single topic: health care, immigration, foreign policy, gun control. For each topic, have a single meeting. Bring in a representative slice of Democrats from across the country, and have the candidates agree from the word “go” that they will support the meeting’s choice, and that they will be open to compromise and discussion. Spend five or six hours debating and discussing and walk out of the meeting with a plank.
Do this as many times as necessary to address the six or seven top issues. Then.
From those planks, build a platform.
Once we have a platform, then and only then have a popularity contest. One or two nights, the candidates argue not about what the policies should be, bur rather how they would implement them.
- A common platform, set forth in considerable detail;
- A champion of that common platform.
This means that we’re not buying a package, we’re buying a la carte.
I think this would have some advantages. What do you think?