The Miller Center has partnered with ABC News’ This Week on the fourth season of its acclaimed National Discussion and Debate Series. The season's first event was held on December 18 and addressed the proper size and scope of government. The second debate, held on April 29, examined whether or not America’s economic recovery is built to last. The third debate was broadcast on Sunday, August 19, on the question: “Is the U.S. Headed Toward Bankruptcy?” The next ABC/Miller Center debate will take place on October 14 and will ask: “Do presidential debates change elections?”
“It’s been a delight to work with the Miller Center on bringing a series of thoughtful policy discussions to our Sunday morning audience, particularly during this critically important election year,” said George Stephanopoulos, anchor of This Week.
“Too often in this country, important issues are not discussed or debated as much as they are reduced to soundbites and slogans. Our purpose is to educate and to elevate the level of understanding and civility when the issues of 2012 are discussed. I’m especially pleased that this partnership will not only help inform voters but also help teach students across the country,” said Gov. Gerald L. Baliles, director and CEO of the Miller Center.
Each program will take place before a live studio audience at the Newseum in Washington, DC and air on Sundays as special episodes of This Week with George Stephanopoulos.
The Miller Center will create and disseminate educational materials for the debate. Leading scholars will write white papers on each debate topic, and provide post-debate expert analyses. The white papers will be turned into lesson plans that middle-school and high-school teachers can use to educate students about election issues. The lessons plans will adhere to the standards of learning in all 50 states. White papers, scholars’ reactions, lesson plans, and other original materials will be available at millercenter.org.
This marks the fourth season of national discussions and debates convened by the Miller Center. During the first season, held in 2007–2008, we debated five issues of national importance: troop levels in Iraq; privacy in post-9/11 America; religion in the public square; universal health care; and immigration policy. The second season, in 2009, focused on "Priorities for a New President" — examining some of the issues at the top of President Obama's agenda: infrastructure, curbing Iran's nuclear ambitions, the future of affirmative action, and America's energy future. The third season, in 2010, featured debates on the correlation between college education and global economic power, the rising costs of end-of-life health care, the business model of higher education, and the impact of the Internet on democracy.
At each event, a panel of distinguished participants is drawn from the ranks of practitioners, public intellectuals, business and religious leaders, and academics to illuminate the many facets of these issues. Panelists have included such luminaries as Paul Ryan, Julian Bond, Arnold Schwarzenegger, George Will, Barney Frank, Christine Todd Whitman, Richard Armey, John Podesta, Edward Rendell, and James Woolsey. During the first three seasons, we partnered with MacNeil/Lehrer Productions, an award-winning leader in public affairs broadcasting since 1981, to produce the debates. The first season's debates were carried by more than 60% of the 209 PBS affiliates nationwide. This number increased to 69% and 72% in Seasons II and III, respectively. This included eight of the top ten PBS markets: New York, Washington, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Dallas, Philadelphia, Boston, and Atlanta. PBS NewsHour also devoted a five-minute segment, including video excerpts, to their nightly program shortly after each debate.
Great challenges confront our nation, and the proposed solutions are rarely simple or straight forward. This series will bring together the most knowledgeable advocates on every side of these complex issues. An informed citizenry is the bedrock of a thriving democracy. It is our sincere hope that this series will elevate citizens’ level of understanding on these issues and foster a national conversation that is informed, balanced, thoughtful, and civil.