Saturday, September 11, 2010

Having my Say

I was on the debate team in high school.  The topic for the year was 'Federal aid to education'.  I was on the side against the issue.  My debate partner used the acronym 'FATE'.  He asked if you wanted the fate of your child's education in the hands of the Federal government.  This was the early 60's and I will leave you to determine if the Federal action was a good idea.

Anyway, that is not the reason I am writing today.  I am writing about the issue of debating, especially between candidates for election.  The public, and especially the media, seem to think this is a good way to make a decision about qualifications.  What it tells me is who is a better performer and can think fast on their feet. 

As a former political candidate, I have participated in these debates, conducted by the League of Women Voters.  Questions are submitted by voters to the candidates.  In my former position as Treasurer, technical questions were good, but often the public does not know the correct answer to technical questions, nor do some candidates.  I remember a candidate in a nearby community who promised that he/she would lower taxes for seniors, something a local treasurer has no control over.  But, most voters do not know that.  It just sounds really good.

When I ran for re-election in 2004, I had decided early on in the campaign that I was not going to allow a forum for my opponent to beat me up in a debate.  Opponents have a way of not answering the question asked and inserting some extraneous, and suspect information into their answer.  I learned this from experience.  Besides, I had a track record to assail if they so desired and they had 'bupkis'.  I figured either the voters approved of my tenure and performance or they could just choose the new guy, based on 'whatever'.

As it was, my body interfered in 2004, I was severely ill for four weeks, and I ended up having emergency surgery and missed the whole debate/interview thing.  (Not to be deterred, my opponent still beat me up in the press for not showing up.  Maybe we could have done the debate in the recovery room.)

I thought about all this this morning when I read that debates between Snyder and Bernero had been called off.  I am sure the press is not happy.  A screaming candidate is wonderful viewing, if you go in for that sort of thing (I don't, BTW).  Nothing like a 'you did/you didn't/you said/ he said etc' hour on television.  There would be great You Tube videos for everyone to see in case they missed it.

But is this how we should be deciding who should be Governor or any other office holder for that matter?  This is not an audition for a role in a play, but for a job getting our state back in the running.  We need less acting and showmanship and more 'roll up the sleeves and get to work'.  And we cannot get them from grown men, or women, arguing in front of TV cameras.  And it is not so much about what you have done as what can you do in the future. 

So, let's sit the candidates down separately and ask the intelligent questions.  Boring?  Not good TV?  So be it.  I do not care what the candidate thinks about the other guy.  I only care about what he can do for all of us.

1 comment:

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