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As I See It

Participating in political debates should be mandatory for candidates



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.

Scott Robert Shaw serves as WIZM Program Director and News Director, and delivers the morning news on WKTY, Z-93 and 95.7 The Rock. Scott has been at Mid-West Family La Crosse since 1989, and authors Wisconsin's only daily radio editorial, "As I See It" heard on WIZM each weekday morning and afternoon.

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  1. Chip DeNure

    September 20, 2022 at 7:21 am

    As someone with no trust in the liberal media or university professors, I agree with Mr. Van Orden

  2. Sue Schultz

    September 20, 2022 at 2:06 pm

    Yards signs do not vote no matter how large. Neither do negative ads vote. When a negative ad airs, that must mean the candidate has something to hide by directing interest in a negative direction. Learn more about candidates through live debates where each person must answer the same question, not pick the ones they want to answer.
    if the candidate will not debate, they either are not knowledgeable about issues or have nothing to say.
    Know the candidates and the issues. Our democracy depends on it. It will determine your future.

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