There aren’t many requirements to run for political office. You have to be a legal citizen, and sometimes be of a certain age. Perhaps there should be one more requirement for aspiring politicians, an appearance in political debates. It seems this election system, debates have become more political. Third District congressional candidate Derrick Van Orden is lashing out over calls for him to debate his opponent, Brad Pfaff. Pfaff proposed three debates. Van Orden said he would only take part if it was a town-hall style debate, with questions from members of the audience, and not in his words, “university professors” and “liberal media.” That has prompted UW-La Crosse, which in typical years conducts debates with area candidates, to suspend its calls for a debate in this congressional race, saying the rhetoric has become toxic. That is unfortunate. Voters deserve to see the candidates side by side, and hear from them in their own words. Participating in a political debate should be seen as an opportunity to clarify a candidate’s position on the issues, not an opportunity to offer a dog-whistle to their political base with verbal grenades like “university professors” and “liberal media.” These debates are a service to voters to help them get to know the candidates. Skipping debates while crying foul should also tell voters something about the candidates.