The elections are about one week away. Steve Vaughn posted his “Ten things that are plucking my last nerve”, his thoughts on the irritating things of this election season. I thought I would add to that my list of irritating things about debates.
First, if you are a candidate and have agreed to do a debate with whatever organization then SHOW UP. It takes a lot of effort to pull debates together including working with everyone’s schedules, finding a location and getting people there. Candidates not showing up just lets you know how little they think about those voters.
Second, if you are an organization do not tell the audience a candidate did not show up when you did not put in the work to make it a valid debate. That means you have to do more then send out an email saying “our debate is this Friday.” As an organizer you should have had actual contact , either by phone or email, with the campaign and invited them. If there was a conflict then the audience should be told that.
Third, if you are having a forum or “meet the candidates” where candidates from multiple races are attending, invite all the candidates in your areas races. This happened at a forum I attended. I wondered why one district race in the local area was absent when candidates from areas farther away attended. Did they have another event? So I asked both the candidates in that race at their next event to find out that neither the Republican or Democrat in the area had been invited. The group hosting the event said nothing about it which left the audience to infer that neither candidate cared enough to show up.
Lastly, a major item that plucks my last nerve: if a candidate is not showing up they should not send someone to stand in for them. I am not voting for someone’s campaign manager so why do I care what their opinion is about an issue. Also, the candidate does not really know what the person will say. Do they want to risk losing voters to the their challenger if their stand-in speaks inappropriately about issues? This happened in a debate on the Peninsula recently. The question asked was if the Seventeenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which established direct election of United States Senators by popular vote, should be overturned. The person filling in for the actual candidate said yes because the public is obviously doing a bad job and it should be left up to the Virginia General Assembly to appoint their Federal Senators.
So I might have taken more offense to this then others as I am a president of a local chapter of the League of Women Voters and it took us more than 90 years to be able to vote in the first place. However, I think any voter who cares enough to turn out to a debate and get information to make an informed decision should also be offended. Nothing like being told you are too stupid to make a good decision so your decisions will be made for you.