The presidential debates: Let them talk
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Appended to the body of the United States Constitution are the first ten Amendments to that document, known collectively as the Bill of Rights. The first of those Amendments enshrines freedom of speech. This is no accident. It is a reflection of the fact that freedom of speech is at the heart of the American concept of liberty.
The Founders were not naïve as to the practical implications of guaranteeing the right to free speech.  They did not live in a bubble apart from the real world. They understood fully that in the marketplace of ideas they were guaranteeing there would be a lot of sharp elbows and barbed words. They lived in just such a world themselves.
The Founders enshrined freedom of speech because they had a fundamental belief that the best ideas and the most important truths would triumph over less compelling arguments. They also knew that the alternative, to empower someone or something to decide which ideas were worthy of expression,would inevitably lead to tyranny. Any entity powerful enough to silence your opponent today is powerful enough to silence you tomorrow.
Which brings me to the impending Presidential debates.
The media is seized at present with the question of who will moderate the coming debates. Speculation is rife regarding which journalist of which political persuasion will get the nod. How will the debate be shaped or controlled? Who will engineer the next “gotcha” moment? Who will “confront” Trump or “challenge” Clinton?  The moderators it seems are to be as much a part of the “show” as the candidates themselves.
I have a different idea. Let’s let the candidates talk.
We live in difficult, challenging times. Our nation is beset by problems domestically and abroad. Let’s ask the candidates about these problems. Let’s ask them what they intend to do about them. Let’s listen to the answers.
Our middle class is under siege. Standards of living are at best static. Jobs continue to disappear overseas.  What is the plan for reversing our economic decline and putting us back on the path to prosperity?
We have been at war with radical Islam for at least fifteen years. Victory is nowhere in sight. We have spent $1 trillion on homeland security since 9/11, and yet the  terror threat at home is escalating daily. How are we going to win this war and guarantee the safety of our citizens?
Our southern border is wide open. We have at least 12 million illegals living here already. More arrive everyday. What is the solution? How do we secure the border and resolve the status of the millions living in the shadows?
Our inner citizens are exploding into violence. Millions of Americans have been abandoned into deep poverty for generations. The social programs in place are doing nothing to address these problems or help those trapped in our ghettos. What is the way forward? How do we bring opportunity and prosperity to all Americans?
Our national debt is approaching $20 trillion. It has doubled in the eight years since President Obama took office. If we do not get spending under control this tidal wave of debt is going to crush the federal government. What’s the plan? How do we escape disaster?
Let’s put men and women on stage as moderators who will ask these questions, and the dozens of others begging to be asked, enforce the debate rules and otherwise fade into the scenery. Let’s put people on stage who are there, not to grab the limelight and pad ratings, but to illuminate the issues and educate the American people. Let’s treat the debates not as cheap entertainment but as the serious events they should be.
Let’s stop trying to predetermine what is and is not acceptable to say or discuss. Let’s avoid trying to steer the debate in predetermined directions. Let’s stand clear of empowering moderators to pass judgment or provide editorial commentary.
Let’s let the candidates talk,and then, like the Founders, let’s trust that the American people are wise enough to judge for themselves who has the better ideas and the more workable solutions.
Charles S. Faddis is a former CIA operations officer with 20 years of experience in intelligence operations. He is a senior editor for AND Magazine and a contributor to counterterrorism and homeland security journals. He is author of "Operation Hotel California." 
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