With the first round of the U.S. Presidential Debates kicking off tonight in Colorado, Lavin and Glouberman sat down and hashed out the good and the bad about today's debate formats. Despite being highly anticipated and widely watched, the current format for political debates seldom lends itself to providing the audience with “a clearer picture of an issue,” Glouberman says. This shortcoming is ironic, as he says that the function of a debate is to help the audience learn about the candidates and understand the issues at hand. Rather than “banging up against each other for the sake of some sort of theater,” says Glouberman, the participants should focus instead on what they agree on, in order to give the audience a clearer view of their differences.
David Lavin agrees. He suggested that: “the next debate between the Republican and the Democratic candidate for president should be a discussion about what they agree about.” He adds that this formula would be “fundamentally more productive.”
Perhaps they're on to something here.
Both Lavin and Glouberman have extensive experience in the nuances of effective public discourse (David as the CEO of a top speakers bureau and Misha as the leader of the popular lecture series How To Talk To People About Things). The idea that political debate—or any debate, for that matter—should be focused more on uncovering the truth and finding common ground, rather than on who is right and wrong, is refreshing in today's hyper-polarized culture.