Wherefore All the Debates
Ed Fitzpatrick devoted a column, the other day, to the profusion of gubernatorial debates, this election cycle:
Of course, the candidates didn’t participate in all these events simply out of the goodness of their hearts. This was an open seat, so there was no incumbent telling us he or she had too many important things to do instead. And the race was tourniquet tight, making candidates reluctant to blow off an event and give their opponents a chance to criticize them or sway a crowd in their absence.
Looking ahead, we shouldn’t expect so many debates in the next governor’s race. But we should appreciate what we had this year.
Fitzpatrick doesn’t go any more deeply than that into the question of why there were so many debates, but it’s an interesting angle that could affect election cycles to come. Myself, I credit the Rhode Island Voter Coalition, which began hosting debates early and set the precedent that an organization didn’t have to be a mainstream media outlet or major political player, like the unions, to be able to summon the candidates.
Moving a step farther, I’d categorize the RIVC as an outgrowth of last summer’s Tea Parties and healthcare town halls. That’s where the shocking notion became solidified that politicians should face their constituents in candid forums. And if I may be so bold, Anchor Rising played a role in our coverage of those prior events, including online video posted within a day or two, as well as in helping to establish the RIVC debates in the same manner.
Unfortunately, life twisted, for me, in a direction that precluded my continuing the practice. Whether it can be renewed depends entirely on the willingness of readers to support the site as a more substantial means of employment.