The Oval: Debates

Good afternoon.

They say America has a vigorous democratic system.

We hold elections.

We have a free press.

We see elected leaders go to town halls.

And if you want to be president, you have to do a few debates.

A debate sounds like an argument…

And in theory, it is one.

But presidential debates aren’t really arguments.

They’re just a series of short speeches.

Each candidate tries to pick apart the other guy…

Each candidate tries to offend the fewest people…

But in the end, you never hear a candidate deviate from their talking points.

You never hear a candidate say: “I guess you’re right about that one.”

Debates are not held so that candidates come to agreement.

That’s not the point!

The people who put on debates – the media – don’t want the candidates to agree…

They want a good brawl!

They want dramatic, unscripted moments!

It makes for better TV. Better ratings.

But not a better country.

Look, I’m not saying we need a kumbaya “let’s all get along” session with the candidates.

The reason we have elections is because we have to hold our political leaders accountable.

And give new ideas a hearing.

And if those new ideas prove to be unconvincing, well, that’s why presidents get re-elected.

But can’t debates do more than merely reinforce what we already know about the candidates?

Why don’t we have debates which are real debates?

In a classic debate, the participants have to prepare to argue both sides of the same issue. Then, right before the debate… they are told to stick to one side or the other.

Pro-death penalty, or anti… you prepare to argue either case. On Monday, you argue pro. On Tuesday, you argue anti.

Now, wouldn’t it be interesting if we had the candidates – Barack Obama and Mitt Romney – prepare to argue both sides of the same issue?

The federal government is too big – agree or disagree?

“President Obama, you have to argue that it’s too big tonight. Let’s see how you do with that one.”

“Governor Romney, you get to argue that it’s too small. Have fun!”

Wouldn’t that be something?

You’d have political leaders take positions with which they disagree… and do their best job explaining themselves.

It would be revealing.

For one thing, it would tell us whether a candidate has a brain in their head.

It’s easy to memorize what someone tells you to say. It’s hard to make a compelling case against those things you believe already.

You have to have an imagination. You have to think quickly. You have to know the facts – and understand that the facts can be interpreted in many different ways.

You can’t present the argument of the other side as an absurd straw man – easily knocked down by the first puff of wind.

You have to respect both sides of an issue. It takes maturity.

You might even learn to question those principles you hold dear.

Sure, a debate like that might test our candidates more on their logic and arguing skills than their beliefs, but we don’t need a debate to know what the candidates say they believe.

They put out position papers. Their parties write platforms – or re-write them, as the case may be.

Debates aren’t there so people can find out what candidates BELIEVE.

They’re held so we can see whether candidates can handle the PRESSURE.

Debates are about the theater, right?

They’re about whether these candidates can think on their feet… can deliver a good line without a teleprompter… can out-maneuver their opponent… can handle criticism with grace.

So… why not switch roles and positions, just to make things interesting?

At the very least, it would be better than what we have now.

It would give us a window into the way our presidential candidates think through problems…

Weigh evidence…

Acknowledge doubt…

And whether they even understand the issues they talk about.

You’d certainly get us some dramatic moments.

What if Mitt Romney had to defend Obamacare?

What if Obama had to attack it?

What if the candidates were asked whether the US should stay and fight in Afghanistan until the Taliban were defeated?

I’m not even sure what the candidates actually believe on this issue, so it might be good to just assign them a position and see how they do with it.

We could do something even more dramatic. We could ask the candidates to edit each other’s answer!

Let’s say they ask President Obama: “What does America owe its citizens?”

He’ll give his answer.

And rather than Romney giving his own view to the same question, what if he tried to give Obama’s answer, but in a more convincing way?

It would be quite a test. Because we would be able to tell, right away, whether a candidate can see the world through someone else’s eyes. Do they have a better vision to achieve the same goal?

My point is that we need to get the candidates to address the issues, and take a stand.

No more splitting the middle.

No more mixed signals.

No more mushy, focus grouped language.

I’ll tell you one thing: It would be a lot easier to decide who “won” a debate. You won’t need some media talking head to tell us that Candidate X had a better answer on Social Security.

You’d know it right away. You’d see it right away.

Look: This office is occupied by people for four years. The issues of 2012 aren’t necessarily going to be the issues of 2016.

The world will have new crises. Our economy will look differently. The president, whoever he is, will be tested in new ways.

If there’s one thing we know about the Presidency, it’s this: You can’t predict what issues a president will face.

But you should be able to predict how he’ll face them.

Today’s debates don’t do a very good job of helping us make that prediction.

We could do it better… maybe one day, they’ll try a new approach.

Thanks for watching.

God bless you, and may God bless the Republic.

In light of the national conversation surrounding the rights of free speech, religion and self-defense, Mercury One is thrilled to announce a brand new initiative launching this Father's Day weekend: a three-day museum exhibition in Dallas, Texas focused on the rights and responsibilities of American citizens.

This event seeks to answer three fundamental questions:

  1. As Americans, what responsibility do we shoulder when it comes to defending our rights?
  2. Do we as a nation still agree on the core principles and values laid out by our founding fathers?
  3. How can we move forward amidst uncertainty surrounding the intent of our founding ideals?

Attendees will be able to view historical artifacts and documents that reveal what has made America unique and the most innovative nation on earth. Here's a hint: it all goes back to the core principles and values this nation was founded on as laid out in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.

Exhibits will show what the world was like before mankind had rights and how Americans realized there was a better way to govern. Throughout the weekend, Glenn Beck, David Barton, Stu Burguiere, Doc Thompson, Jeffy Fisher and Brad Staggs will lead private tours through the museum, each providing their own unique perspectives on our rights and responsibilities.

Schedule a private tour or purchase general admission ticket below:

June 15-17


Mercury Studios

6301 Riverside Drive, Irving, TX 75039

Learn more about the event here.

About Mercury One: Mercury One is a 501(c)(3) charity founded in 2011 by Glenn Beck. Mercury One was built to inspire the world in the same way the United States space program shaped America's national destiny and the world. The organization seeks to restore the human spirit by helping individuals and communities help themselves through honor, faith, courage, hope and love. In the words of Glenn Beck:

We don't stand between government aid and people in need. We stand with people in need so they no longer need the government

Some of Mercury One's core initiatives include assisting our nation's veterans, providing aid to those in crisis and restoring the lives of Christians and other persecuted religious minorities. When evil prevails, the best way to overcome it is for regular people to do good. Mercury One is committed to helping sustain the good actions of regular people who want to make a difference through humanitarian aid and education initiatives. Mercury One will stand, speak and act when no one else will.

Support Mercury One's mission to restore the human spirit by making an online donation or calling 972-499-4747. Together, we can make a difference.

What happened?

A New York judge ruled Tuesday that a 30-year-old still living in his parents' home must move out, CNN reported.

Failure to launch …

Michael Rotondo, who had been living in a room in his parents' house for eight years, claims that he is owed a six-month notice even though they gave him five notices about moving out and offered to help him find a place and to help pay for repairs on his car.

RELATED: It's sad 'free-range parenting' has to be legislated, it used to be common sense

“I think the notice is sufficient," New York State Supreme Court Judge Donald Greenwood said.

What did the son say?

Rotondo “has never been expected to contribute to household expenses, or assisted with chores and the maintenance of the premises, and claims that this is simply a component of his living agreement," he claimed in court filings.

He told reporters that he plans to appeal the “ridiculous" ruling.

Reform Conservatism and Reaganomics: A middle road?

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Senator Marco Rubio broke Republican ranks recently when he criticized the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act by stating that “there's no evidence whatsoever that the money's been massively poured back into the American worker." Rubio is wrong on this point, as millions of workers have received major raises, while the corporate tax cuts have led to a spike in capital expenditure (investment on new projects) of 39 percent. However, the Florida senator is revisiting an idea that was front and center in the conservative movement before Donald Trump rode down an escalator in June of 2015: reform conservatism.

RELATED: The problem with asking what has conservatism conserved

The "reformicons," like Rubio, supported moving away from conservative or supply-side orthodoxy and toward policies such as the expansion of the child and earned income tax credits. On the other hand, longstanding conservative economic theory indicates that corporate tax cuts, by lowering disincentives on investment, will lead to long-run economic growth that will end up being much more beneficial to the middle class than tax credits.

But asking people to choose between free market economic orthodoxy and policies guided towards addressing inequality and the concerns of the middle class is a false dichotomy.

Instead of advocating policies that many conservatives might dismiss as redistributionist, reformicons should look at the ways government action hinders economic opportunity and exacerbates income inequality. Changing policies that worsen inequality satisfies limited government conservatives' desire for free markets and reformicons' quest for a more egalitarian America. Furthermore, pushing for market policies that reduce the unequal distribution of wealth would help attract left-leaning people and millennials to small government principles.

Criminal justice reform is an area that reformicons and free marketers should come together around. The drug war has been a disaster, and the burden of this misguided government approach have fallen on impoverished minority communities disproportionately, in the form of mass incarceration and lower social mobility. Not only has the drug war been terrible for these communities, it's proved costly to the taxpayer––well over a trillion dollars has gone into the drug war since its inception, and $80 billion dollars a year goes into mass incarceration.

Prioritizing retraining and rehabilitation instead of overcriminalization would help address inequality, fitting reformicons' goals, and promote a better-trained workforce and lower government spending, appealing to basic conservative preferences.

Government regulations tend to disproportionately hurt small businesses and new or would-be entrepreneurs. In no area is this more egregious than occupational licensing––the practice of requiring a government-issued license to perform a job. The percentage of jobs that require licenses has risen from five percent to 30 percent since 1950. Ostensibly justified by public health concerns, occupational licensing laws have, broadly, been shown to neither promote public health nor improve the quality of service. Instead, they serve to provide a 15 percent wage boost to licensed barbers and florists, while, thanks to the hundreds of hours and expensive fees required to attain the licenses, suppressing low-income entrepreneurship, and costing the economy $200 billion dollars annually.

Those economic losses tend to primarily hurt low-income people who both can't start businesses and have to pay more for essential services. Rolling back occupational licenses will satisfy the business wing's desire for deregulation and a more free market and the reformicons' support for addressing income inequality and increasing opportunity.

The favoritism at play in the complex tax code perpetuates inequality.

Tax expenditures form another opportunity for common ground between the Rubio types and the mainstream. Tax deductions and exclusions, both on the individual and corporate sides of the tax code, remain in place after the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Itemized deductions on the individual side disproportionately benefit the wealthy, while corporate tax expenditures help well-connected corporations and sectors, such as the fossil fuel industry.

The favoritism at play in the complex tax code perpetuates inequality. Additionally, a more complicated tax code is less conducive to economic growth than one with lower tax rates and fewer exemptions. Therefore, a simpler tax code with fewer deductions and exclusions would not only create a more level playing field, as the reformicons desire, but also additional economic growth.

A forward-thinking economic program for the Republican Party should marry the best ideas put forward by both supply-siders and reform conservatives. It's possible to take the issues of income inequality and lack of social mobility seriously, while also keeping mainstay conservative economic ideas about the importance of less cumbersome regulations and lower taxes.

Alex Muresianu is a Young Voices Advocate studying economics at Tufts University. He is a contributor for Lone Conservative, and his writing has appeared in Townhall and The Daily Caller. He can be found on Twitter @ahardtospell.

Is this what inclusivity and tolerance look like? Fox News host Tomi Lahren was at a weekend brunch with her mom in Minnesota when other patrons started yelling obscenities and harassing her. After a confrontation, someone threw a drink at her, the moment captured on video for social media.

RELATED: Glenn Addresses Tomi Lahren's Pro-Choice Stance on 'The View'

On today's show, Pat and Jeffy talked about this uncomfortable moment and why it shows that supposedly “tolerant" liberals have to resort to physical violence in response to ideas they don't like.