These wise words from political consultant Alex Clemens to the D5 candidates collaborative, which Wednesday plans a press conference to protest debate forums that pick and choose among the 22 candidates in the race:
In ’00 I organized a forum in D6, where (I believe) 17 candidates were running, including your very own Mr. H. Brown. After attending about a half-dozen forums where one audience member would ask a question, and seventeen people would, in order, answer it, boring the crap out of all audience members and the candidates, who occasionally dozed until their turn. (Not H.) There simply aren’t any nuances left after sixteen answers to a question, and this format didn’t give candidates an opportunity to cleverly differentiate themselves.
I planned the Treasure Island forum a bit differently. Each candidate, in turn, had the opportunity to ask another candidate of THEIR CHOOSING a question of THEIR CHOOSING. We did a couple rounds of this. This scheme allowed candidates to choose percieved frontrunners and try to take them down a peg, to compare/contrast themselves against other folks in the race, and to ignore those candidates that the pack of candidates themselves had decided were irrelevant or annoying. (Insert your own joke here.)
It worked pretty well. The questions were more pointed, hardball, and intelligent than those usually asked by the general public, the more viable candidates got the lion’s share of questions (good for the audience and for democracy in general, I think), and we didn’t have to hear from Kindly Old James Leo Dunn about his cool yet somewhat unlikely floating and/or buried Tetrahedron of Homelessness every single time anyone asked a question about MUNI. (Insert another joke of your own here.)
I’d suggest this scheme as a good way to organize these forae, as the self-selecting nature of the format lets the candidates themselves decide the face they’d like to present to the voters, and you don’t bore the holy living f*ck out of the audience. Over and over and over again.
My two cents. Feel free to ignore this completely. I look forward to seeing you all on the campaign trail.