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Wed May 6, 2015, 08:29 PM

In this post-Citizens United world debates are essential to the survival of our democracy

In this post-Citizen's United world money can buy a lot of things. Money can flood the airwaves with 30 second ads, money can fill your mailbox with campaign literature, money can rent out stadiums to hold massive campaign rallies for a candidate, but there is one thing that money can not buy in elections.

Money can not buy a good debate performance.

In a political system that has been thoroughly corrupted by big money there are lots of inequalities in our elections, but when our candidates step on to the debate stage together we get to witness a moment in which our candidates are on a relatively level playing field. If a candidate is not able to show that they can grasp the issues that are facing America no amount of money is going to change that on the debate stage. Underfunded candidates can and often do win debates if they have good ideas, the debate stage is the one place in which an underfunded candidate can really compete against their big money opponents.

This is not just about Hillary, or Bernie, or O'Malley, this is about our democracy.

As money becomes further entrenched in our system debates are going to become more important than ever before and we need to be demanding more of those debates, not less.

I think that most of us should be able to agree that the election of our next President is more important than the election of our next American Idol, yet our American Idol contestants will get more time to compete against each other on stage than our Presidential candidates will. There is something seriously wrong with this picture.

People are trying to tell me that six debates is enough despite the fact that we had more than three times that many in 2008. They tell me that we should be able to decide who the best candidate is within six debates.

I have to wonder what the public reaction would be if the NFL were to announce that they were cutting the season down to six games because we should be able to decide who the best team is within those six games. I predict that such an announcement would be met with howls of protest across the nation.

The Presidential race is far more important than the race for the Super Bowl, and yet the public reaction to the reduction in the number debates is far more muted than a reduction in the number of NFL games no doubt would be. Considering the election of the next President is so much more important than football, I don't think it is unreasonable to ask the candidates to spend more time on the debate stage than our football players spend on the field each year.

If we want our democracy to survive the onslaught of big money then we need to do everything we can to ensure that we give the underfunded candidates opportunities to compete on equal terms with the big money candidates and debates are one the very best ways to do that.

Debate is essential to our democracy and those who try to limit it need to be challenged vigorously.

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Reply In this post-Citizens United world debates are essential to the survival of our democracy (Original post)
Bjorn Against May 2015 OP
NYC_SKP May 2015 #1
Bjorn Against May 2015 #2
NYC_SKP May 2015 #3

Response to Bjorn Against (Original post)

Wed May 6, 2015, 08:43 PM

1. K/R. Some say that six are plenty. I say bullshit. We need three times that number.


But if you're the rich one, the one taking PAC money, money from banks, etc., then the LAST thing you need is to let your opponents get free air time.

Free air time, that's Golden!

AND a chance to lay out your solutions, your agenda, with millions watching!!!

But NOOO, HRC and the DNC can't have THAT!

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Response to NYC_SKP (Reply #1)

Wed May 6, 2015, 09:04 PM

2. Thanks, I don't think many people consider just how important debates are

It is not just about free airtime for the candidates, it is also about making the candidates prove they can articulate their positions without reading from a script. Too often we are forced to hear our candidates positions through 30 second ads and position papers. These things are the very definition of totally scripted, the words you hear often don't even come from the candidate but rather from a writer who was hired by the candidate's campaign. It is not so easy for a candidate to get a writer to come up with an answer to a debate question, debates are one of the few unscripted moments in many campaigns.

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Response to Bjorn Against (Reply #2)

Wed May 6, 2015, 09:16 PM

3. IMO, ads should either be publicly funded and equally aired, or banned altogether.


Citizens United said, basically, that money=free speech.

If that's the case then we're sunk.

I say that cable needs to be regulated more like the public airwaves, managed in the public interest.

There must be a way to reign this crap in.

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