Note: This “Moore to the Point” commentary aired on NewsTalkSTL on Monday, September 26th. Audio included below.
If you follow politics semi-closely, something you likely look forward to during election season is the debates. What better way to get a good sense of where the candidates stand on the issues – and how they hold up under pressure?
And yet, more and more lately, we see candidates – in high-profile races – declining to debate. (See, e.g., here and here.) There are varying excuses, of course, but if you ask me, it boils down to one thing – the potential downside outweighs the upside. For the less polished contenders, they run the risk of exposing their weaknesses. Even for the more skilled debaters, there’s always the chance of a verbal misstep that will undercut their image. A debate can only be so scripted – it’s those off-script moments that can come back to haunt a candidate.
So I get it – strategically speaking, it may make more sense to avoid the risk altogether. After all, how many voters will decide not to vote for a candidate based on what they didn’t say? In today’s highly charged political arena, the odds are pretty low.
Still, I’d much rather see the candidates square off – lay out their platforms, make their points, defend them coherently, and rebut the challenges to them. In other words, show us that they’re up to the task. Frankly, I have a lot more faith in a candidate who’s willing to take that risk than one who isn’t.