Is this our fault? Well, of course it is. But, still ... couldn't the candidates try a little harder to make it interesting?
For example, one cause of voter cynicism is the suspicion that the candidates are complete ignoramuses on every topic on which they haven't been preprogrammed by their handlers. So, instead of having them stand around and semi-argue with each other, why not have them play Jeopardy instead, with the categories weighted toward history and current affairs.
Sure, the frontrunners wouldn't be likely to agree to it, but why not let laggards like Duncan Hunter and Dennis Kucinich volunteer for a match. They don't even have to be in the same party. Come on, you'd watch that, right? And once a Hunter-Kucinich-Paul Jeopardy match got triple the ratings of the last debate, pressure would mount on the big boys and girls to pick up their buzzers and fight.
Couldn't the match be rigged by producers who leak the questions to one candidate or another? Sure, but there are ways around that. The show doesn't have to write new questions -- it has tens of thousands of old questions, far too many for a candidate to study. All the producers would have to do is categorize old categories as Relevant, Middling, and Irrelevant with a weighting toward the Relevant, then have a random system that picks old categories moments before the show starts taping.
Randall Parker asks "Why stop there?"
Jeopardy is just a beginning. I have an idea for a reality TV show: Pair up Republicans and Democrats to survive in a wilderness setting. Let them choose each other. See who can best work in a bipartisan manner. Find out which pair can, say, figure out how to catch salmon without a fishing rod in a stream in Alaska. Or see which pair can build a raft to get off an island that is only a half mile from another island.