Joe Rogan Would Make An Excellent Debate Host
Why you should support a fourth Presidential debate, regardless of political affiliation
America’s most popular podcast host just got support from Donald Trump to host an informal Presidential debate. This would presumably take place as a sequel to the three live-audience debates traditionally organized by the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates and hosted by mainstream media anchors.
Many on the left have been quick to dismiss such a proposal, citing Joe Rogan’s alleged political bias or illegitimacy as a host. Meanwhile, right wing Twitter seems to be excited about a debate format which will potentially expose weaknesses in Biden as a candidate.
I confess: I‘m not a regular viewer of the Joe Rogan Experience podcast. My strong support of the proposed debate doesn’t come from a deep-rooted admiration of Joe Rogan as a host. That being said, Rogan has demonstrated an ability to have rational, in-depth conversations with people from both sides of the aisle.
His interviews with former Democratic leadership candidates Andrew Yang and Bernie Sanders each have millions of views. He even went so far as to say that he would probably vote for Bernie, though he denied that it constituted an endorsement, adding:
I’m a f*cking moron. If you’re basing who you’re gonna vote for…based on what I like, I’m not that deep into this stuff.
From what I’ve seen, Rogan’s point of view represents the average voter better than those of traditional moderators. Voters deserve more than just two candidates arguing on a stage. A guy like Joe Rogan, who tends to approach people charitably, but isn’t afraid to occasionally jump in with his own opinions, is a chance for voters to see themselves participating in the discussion.
In addition to the upsides of Joe Rogan as a moderator, a four-hour informal conversation would be a substantial improvement on the current format.
To be fair, anything would be an improvement on the circus that is a modern Presidential debate. The moderators attempt to cover an impossible amount of ground in 1–2 hours, inevitably failing to get anything behind the soundbites that candidates have been spewing for the entirety of their campaigns. We don’t get to see how candidates’ positions substantively differ, or dive into the key arguments backing the myriad of assertions.
Live fact-checking is minimal. False information is left to be called out by the perpetrator’s opponent, which leads to simple facts being viewed as partisan. When parties can’t even agree on the truth of knowledge in the public record, how can constructive debate possibly occur?
Throughout their campaigns, candidates have more than enough speaking time in front of a friendly audience. The debates should be a platform where beliefs are rigorously examined. Joe Rogan — a self-declared moron — wouldn’t hesitate to respond to a non-answer with “what do you mean by that?”, or “why is that true?”.
In 1960, John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon participated in the first-ever televised Presidential debate. It was a game-changer American politics that evolved into a tradition of bipartisan, broadly-disseminated debates that voters could watch themselves instead of reading secondary sources.
Sixty years later, there is a chance to take bipartisan (maybe even multipartisan?) engagement to new heights. Four hours is negligible in the context of 15+ hour days on the campaign trail. If Biden agrees to participate, the ensuing discussion will not be easily forgotten by history — or at the polling booth.