Thursday, October 07, 2004
As this piece by WPTZ Channel 5 reports, the two main candidates for governor in Vermont are holding a dozen debates across the state before the election. It may be no coincidence that Vermont has some of the toughest limits on campaign contributions and spending, meaning that debates are one of the best ways for candidates to reach voters.
As demonstrated by the recent debates in the presidential race, debates provide voters with an opportunity not present in candidate advertisements - the ability to see the candidates face rebuttal of their positions and to respond to those arguments.
While the candidates no doubt prepare for the debates, the presence of an independent moderator to ask questions can require the candidates to think on their feet, providing further insight into the candidates' strengths and weaknesses for voters.
Only a tiny fraction of the billions of dollars pouring into political campaigns at all levels across this country goes towards providing this kind of discourse. The vast majority of money goes towards candidate commercials and political consultants.
The next time you hear a candidate or politician or some member of their staff insisting that they need all that money to get out their message, know that what they're really saying is that they are worried that message won't hold up under scrutiny, and that they need the glossy Hollywood productions they call campaign ads to drown out that fact.