One of the masters of debate was William F. Buckley Jr., who for over three decades engaged his guests in spirited discussions on his television show Firing Line. Besides weekly conversations, Buckley also occasionally sponsored formal debates.
In 1978 two giants of the American conservative movement disagreed over whether or not the U.S. should relinquish control of the Panama Canal Zone. Instead of ignoring their differences on this issue, Ronald Reagan and William F. Buckley Jr. conducted a live debate to present their arguments to the public. With this, they set the standard of how to handle disagreements over ideas and issues in public policy – in other words, how to debate.
Below are two videos. One is the introduction of the participants by Senator Sam Ervin. The other is a video of Buckley's closing argument for his point (that the Senate should ratify the treaties giving the Panama Canal to Panama.) Copyright issues prevent posting sections of the meat of the debate, but the entire two-hour debate is available on C-Span here.