It’s 50 days until the election and so far I have yet to see a scheduled debate or forum between any candidates running for state or local government.
There is some vast underlying belief that if you feel you have a strong base and strong name recognition that you can skip debates or a forum. I understand this point of view in the context of a competition. If you feel you are the impending “winner,” in terms of a debate you have everything to lose and nothing to gain.
As an electorate we the voters should refuse to give consideration to anyone who refuses to go to a debate or candidate forum. Honestly, there is no valid reason for not participating in a debate if you feel you are the best person for the position. Our next state representative or city leader should know what’s going on, know the facts, and be able to elaborate on them. If they cannot do that they do NOT deserve the job. It doesn’t matter how many doors they have knocked on, how much money they have raised, or who they are friends with.
It’s unfortunate, however, that candidates that run a pure popularity contest campaign can and do win elections.
As a voter you have to ask yourself if that is what you want? Will our future be better choosing the most popular person for the job, or perhaps choosing the better person for the job? With all the change going on in our city and state we cannot afford to be electing someone who is ineffective.
During the primary Esther Helton refused to participate in debates after her poor performance at a Republican’s women’s luncheon. Four years ago Jim Bethune also refused to participate in any candidate forums or debates being put on at the time. Did these two refuse because they lack the basic understanding of the issues? Is it easier to dodge big questions in single one-on-one settings than at a forum with your opponent present? Why do they lack respect for the right of a voter to see and hear from both candidates in a debate?
Don’t be fooled by any smoke being blown by any camp this election season about how they are going to meet with voters individually, hold a grass roots-style campaign, avoid the mud slinging, or any other mantra that ends in a refusal to participate in a debate. If they cannot speak passionately and thoughtfully about the issues facing the voters today then they simply do not deserve your vote and should withdraw from the race.
If a debate is held and a candidate gets out of hand by slinging mud the voters will see that and as they have in the past reject that person. You either know your stuff enough to prove to the voters your the clearer choice or you don’t.
A refusal to participate in a debate should be regarded as an admission that the candidate lacks faith in themselves. As a voter I cannot make my mark and put my trust and faith in someone who does not have faith in themselves. They do not deserve the job.
For years these elections have been popularity contests and for years we have had to deal with a string of ineffective “leaders.” If we want change, we need to change the way we pick our leaders. It’s time to line these candidate up, listen to what they have to say and judge who has the tools necessary to succeed, and who will simply drop the ball.