Despite my general love of political wonkery, I've never particularly liked Presidential debates, regardless of what year it is or who's running. They generally end up such garbled, stage-managed bits of kabuki theatre that there's little real substance, and the campaign is decided elsewhere.
So here's a basic proposal to improve the three debates* and update them for the modern era:
First Debate: Voight-Kampff test Remember Blade Runner? I doubt we can truly know if someone is fit for office until they've answered a series of relentless, disturbing questions. Forget Jim Lehrer, the moderator needs to be an ex-cop with a trenchcoat and deep identity issues, preferably drunk.
The goal is to goad the candidates into psychological breakdown or, alternatively, reveal that they're a replicant. Robots, being inherently untrustworthy, should never be allowed near political office.
Second Debate: Musical showdown I'm surprised this hasn't happened before (and no, Clinton playing the sax doesn't count). The candidates trade barbs in tune, resembling one of those terrible old school musicals or, more brutally, Sam Shepard's classic duel in The Tooth of Crime. Chorus lines required by the Supreme Court.
Third Debate: Thunderdome The third debate will give the masses of this country what they've secretly been yearning for since Andrew Jackson killed all those people in duels: a bloody, one-on-one fight between the potential leaders of this great land.** The blow-dried-hair-and-suit look will be replaced by post-apocalyptic armor and rockin' battle scars. Pundits can pore over whether the choice of a chainsaw or a tire iron to maim one's opponent secretly represents a candidate's true views on foreign policy (or possibly healthcare for seniors).
I promise, the debates will lose no relevance with this new format.
* The Vice Presidential debate, sideshow that it is, will now consist of a drinking contest followed by the two candidates hurling the vilest insults they can muster for an hour.
**If a primary, the final debate will be settled by Hunger Game.