If elections were only about who has the best chance of winning, we could dispense with debates altogether and vote on the basis of campaign advertising and media coverage. But we do not have debates to determine whose candidacy is more viable; we have them to decide whose ideas make the most sense. Limiting participation to those whose poll-tested ideas have the least likelihood of giving offense guarantees us more of the constipated political discourse that has turned so many voters off to politics.The only disagreement I'd have with McNamara is if there are four debates, by the time the third roles around if anyone is below 5% in the polls, perhaps they should be phased out. That still provides a plethora of opportunity for all sorts of issues to be aired, while giving voters debates that can provide the necessary depth of knowledge surrounding the candidates who will ultimately win.
No, voters are not likely to elect either Mihos, the millionaire owner of a convenience store chain, or Ross, the Harvard-educated community organizer. However, the candidate they do elect will be better for having had to debate them.
Sunday, October 01, 2006
Eilene McNamara: Always Worth a Read
During this election season, she's quickly become one of my favorite writers in the media. She had a gem in today's Sunday Globe.