Amy Roberts: New debatable debate rules
In the grand scheme of things, canceling a vacation falls pretty low on the COVID fallout totem pole. People lost loved ones, jobs and their own lives. So when I had to nix a trip to Borneo last spring, it hardly seemed like a sacrifice. Though as the months ticked by and this pandemic wore on and my bags remained stowed away in the closet, my innate wanderlust began to creep over me like an itchy rash, desperate for some relief.
For me, traveling is an actual necessity, just like air and water. Though I can go without it when required, long-term deprivation would most certainly be fatal. I once had a friend describe me as, “The most Sagittarius of any Sagittarius.” When I looked up the personality traits of my astrological sign, I concluded he wasn’t wrong. Considered the zodiac’s great adventurer, a Sagittarius is generally described as someone who cannot tolerate being contained, whose restless soul demands the freedom to explore. Their independent spirit and curiosity are met only by their love of nature and adventure. They’re also considered blunt to a fault, impatient, opinionated and emotionally distant. Pros or cons, the shoe seems to fit.
The last few weeks my Sagittarius-ness has been in overdrive. I’ve been particularly impatient, tactless and twitchy. Being tethered for so long had taken a toll and the sense of feeling stuck became overwhelming. For the sake of other humans who must interact with me, I knew I needed a change of scenery. So I packed up the car and headed south, first to Zion and later to Boulder, Utah.
Despite sharing both locations with what felt like half of the state of California, it was a lovely getaway. Days were filled with sunshine, new trails, the majesty of red rock desert and blue skies, unscathed by the smoke. For nearly a week, I unplugged from the news and technology and instead connected with the natural world around me. As such, I skipped last week’s presidential debate. Though from the recaps I’ve read and seen, calling it a “debate” is well, debatable. By all accounts, there was little substance and fewer manners. Who would have thought binge watching “The Bachelor” was good training for viewing a presidential debate? Anyone who tuned in hoping to learn something about a candidate’s position was hardly enlightened. The entire exercise was as beneficial as a Blockbuster Video card.
It was so appalling that the commission that oversees presidential debates announced it will make changes to the format, though with Trump’s COVID diagnosis, it’s currently unclear when or if another debate will take place. A statement released by the commission after last week’s event said the debate “made clear that additional structure should be added to the format of the remaining debates to ensure a more orderly discussion of the issues.”
While nothing official has been announced as of my deadline, I do have a few suggestions that would help keep the candidates on time and the audience more engaged.
1. Display a visible countdown clock showing the time each candidate has to answer a question.
2. The microphone of the candidate answering a question is cut off when the clock runs out, meaning the audience at home would no longer be able to hear him speak.
3. When it’s not a candidate’s turn to speak, his microphone is not live.
4. If the candidate speaks out of turn or goes over his allotted time, a trap door opens and he disappears until Nov. 4.
5. Future moderators must be either second-grade teachers or mothers who have been quarantined with their kids for more than one week.
6. Both candidates must wear shock collars and when one doesn’t answer a question or goes off topic, he gets zapped by the moderator.
While these rules might not all be realistic, they’d certainly help the ratings.
Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.
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Teri Orr will miss her neighbor, a man whose “influence on this city — from the ’80s until this fall — is nearly impossible to measure.”