Debates are the cornerstone of political campaigns.
Tune out the misleading tv commercials, set aside the barrage of postcards, plug your ears to the sound bites, and ignore all the social media trolls.
Political debates between candidates are meant to be open exchanges of ideas, policies, information, proposals, and even some back-and-forth criticism of each other’s positions. Viewers are then to judge the candidates based on what we see and hear, relate that to our own knowledge and experience, and make a voting decision based on which candidate seems the most credible and best-suited to perform the job.
We citizens are entitled to see and hear that for ourselves, but are being denied.
Governor Tim Walz and challenger Dr. Scott Jensen have had just one debate, way back on Aug. 3 at Farmfest. As of this writing, the only other one scheduled is not until Oct. 28. The current governor has declined at least four other opportunities so far.
We deserve several debates. The World Series plays a best four out of seven games to determine a champion. Similarly, a series of debates allows candidates to brush up between events, and voters to get a true picture of the candidates by seeing how they perform on multiple occasions.
Admittedly, in debates, strong supporters for each candidate will hear only what they want. Each side will claim victory with all sincerity.
But to reach citizens who have any open-mindedness at all, debates are a much more responsible way to campaign than which party can buy the most negative ads.
Remember, the people we elect make numerous decisions that affect our lives every day. This isn’t choosing a homecoming king. We’re electing who we empower to make the rules we have to live by.
Let’s answer the burning question: why is the incumbent governor avoiding debates?
The simple reason is “he’s afraid.” We need to understand why he’s afraid, and there are several components.
An honorable public servant would stand up and discuss his record in a debate format rather than hide. Walz’s evasion is alarming.
We can believe that Walz, a long-time politician, isn’t afraid to participate in a debate. Speaking in public is his profession. But he is afraid of what debates will expose about him, and thus, he avoids them.
• Walz has a dismal record in his term, most notable a culture of lawlessness resulting in lack of public safety like we’ve never seen before. Add to that continuously dropping student performance in schools. A governor has little influence in issues like national inflation, but through taxing and spending policies, burdens can be eased, especially in regard to energy.
That’s quite a performance to try to defend, and that’s only what he’s done so far.
Walz is downplaying his proposal to bring California Fuel Standards here. If there’s a benefit in that to offset the excessive cost, well, Governor, that’s something you could promote in debates.
• Another reason to delay/avoid/delay/avoid/delay debating is the early voting option that begins Sept. 23. Simply, getting people to vote early before debates occur locks their votes in and they can’t change their minds later after they learn more.
If you’re even a bit undecided, please don’t vote early at least until you’ve given both men a fair chance.
• On the flip side, debates give the challenger an opportunity to offer voters other ideas that they may like better.
The most egregious abuse was a statement Walz made in an interview with KSTP’s Tom Hauser which aired Aug. 28. Walz said: “I’m not going to give him (Jensen) a platform to talk about Ivermectin and vaccine lies.”
For one candidate to even hint at not allowing the other to speak his piece is outright despicable. It’s even worse when the one doing it is currently in office.
The statement quoted above is not taken out of context. In fact, Walz’s entire response to Hauser’s question is even more reprehensible. In the full answer, Walz agrees to debate but effectively says he will set the terms of how, including not wanting his opponent to say certain things.
Walz clearly disagrees with Jensen on certain topics, and is welcome to present his own evidence and speak his mind. But putting restrictions on what the other candidate can say? That’s what communists do to stay in power silence the opposition.
Citizens need to look closely at Walz’s intent. Does someone who would play that dirty have the moral character to be worthy of being the highest ranking elected official in our state?
So what can we do from here?
Put the pressure on. Use every opportunity any of us have to demand the current governor come out of hiding and appear on the debate platform.
Whether he does or not, vote Nov. 8 for who you think will be a better leader.