I came across this brilliant idea on page 179 of a book I’m reading: “ The Most Human Human” by Brian Christian:
“Our legal system is adversarial, and founded, like capitalism, on the idea that a bunch of people trying to tear each other apart, plus certain laws and procedures preventing things from getting too out of hand, will yield, in one, justice, and in the other, prosperity, for all. Sometimes this does happen, other times, it doesn’t. At any rate, it’s a terrible metaphor for the rest of life. I suppose we need parliamentary debates and things like that in our high schools to train the lawyers of tomorrow, but how will we train the spouses and committee members and colleagues and teammates of tomorrow? We get to see how well presidential candidates can hack down, rebut, and debunk their rivals: How will we get to see how well they argue constructively, how they barter, coax, mollify, appease – which is what they will actually spend their term in office doing?
I propose the following: the Anti-parliamentary debate. Two sides are given a set of distinct and not obviously compatible objectives: one team, for instance, might be striving to maximize individual liberty, and the other might be striving to maximize individual safety. They are then asked to collaborate, within strict time limits, on a piece of legislation: say, a five-point gun-control bill. After the exact language of the bill is drafted, each team will independently argue to a judging panel why the legislation supports their side’s goals (liberty on the one, safety on the other), and the judges will award a score based on how convincingly they make that case.
The tournament judges then give both sides the same score, which would be the sum of those two scores.
It’s that simple. You pair up with each team in the tournament, round-robin style, and the team with the most points at the end wins. No individual match has a victor, yet the tournament as a whole does, and they became so by working with each team they were paired with. The point structure encourages both groups to find mutually agreeable language for the bill – or else they will have nothing to present the judges at all – and, even beyond that, to help each other “sell” the bill to their respective constituencies.
Imagine the national Lincoln-Douglas debate champion and the national Anti-Lincoln-Douglas debate champion: Which one would you rather attend a diplomatic summit? Which one would you rather be married to?”