Ali characterized the commission’s board of directors “for the most part, elites who are part of the D.C.-New York clique known as the swamp,” listing their professions including former legislators, a lobbyist, a CEO, and managing directors at an investment bank and private equity firm.
“The makeup of this commission should come as no surprise: It’s largely how power, especially political power, has always looked,” Ali explained. “But it’s worth discussing, and in the era we’re living in, where diversity is more valued, it would be foolish not to put pressure on the commission to change.”
The Huffington Post and New York Magazine contributor suggested that the American people deserve a commission that “pushes for tougher rules and a tougher debate format, one that allows for more revealing responses to critical questions” following the chaotic first presidential debate and the vice presidential debate where both candidates dodged many of the questions.
Ali argued that the self-described “nonpartisan” organization is actually “bipartisan” with its various Democrat, Republican, and independent-identified members.
“Debates are important moments in a presidential race and for our nation, and it’s critical to have commission leaders who are well-versed in political matters. But a bunch of corporate leaders, former federal politicians and think-tank types don’t even come close to representing the diversity of American voters,” Ali wrote.
He then suggested that people in everyday professions should be included from doctors and nurses, teachers, union leaders, military veterans, to small-business owners.
“How about more racial diversity among the board members? What about including members who live in rural areas?” Ali asked. “While it may be more difficult to bring about diversity among our candidates and those in the media, a change in the leadership of the Commission on Presidential Debates can be done rather quickly.”
He continued, “The diversity in leadership won’t guarantee a change in debate questions; the commission has no involvement in that process. But it could change how the debates are structured and presented and which moderators are chosen. And above all else, it’s simply the right thing to do. No commission of this import should be so unbalanced in its representation. “