Think 3 Institute: Turning Inclusive Debates into ‘Reality’

Samuel Wilson at Think 3 Institute:

The aftermath of Monday’s inclusive New York gubernatorial debate, which spotlighted all seven candidates who’ll appear on the November ballot, raises questions about the need for balance between inclusiveness and seriousness. The talk of the night and day after the debate, when not focused on the two major-party candidates, focused on James McMillan, the flamboyant candidate of the “Rent is 2 Damn High” party, who was said to have stolen the show with his eccentric appearance and mantric insistence on the driving issue of his campaign. For some observers, McMillan’s performance proved that inclusive debates were a bad idea, since his time took away from whatever they considered the crucial questions of the race. A disillusioned Carl Paladino, who had insisted upon an inclusive debate, decided afterward that the format was “terrible,” apparently because he expected all the other candidates to join him in attacking Andrew Cuomo. Some, notably Charles Barron and Howie Hawkins, embraced the task, but Paladino seems to feel that any time spent not attacking Cuomo at Hofstra was wasted time. He reflects an attitude expressed in many places that the subject for debate Monday should have been the front-runner’s qualifications for office, not the full range of options for the state’s political future. Meanwhile, even people who applauded the debate’s inclusiveness could be troubled by the focus on McMillan at the expense of more credible independents like Barron, Hawkins and Warren Redlich. But to express reservations about McMillan (or Kristin Davis) begs the question of anyone’s qualification to dismiss a duly accredited candidate as frivolous or a crank before a larger audience of voters gets to judge. We don’t want some censorious counterpart of Iran’s Guardian Council to decide whether people otherwise qualified are actually unfit (by what standard?) to run for office. But if the joint appearances we call political debates are to be meaningful, shouldn’t there be a way to insure a more substantive discussion of the issues and choices facing the electorate?

Inclusive debates require some revamping of the debate format to avoid the conditions under which the Hofstra event will likely be the only and thus inevitably disappointing occasion when any of the candidates confront one another. If we want to commit to debates as essential to informed voting, every accredited candidate — those with automatic ballot lines and those who meet the petition threshold — must commit to a sequence of debates.

How should the sequence work? Keep Reading

Previously at IPR:

Jimmy McMillan video goes viral: one million plus views

More Media Reactions to 7-party New York Gubernatorial Debate, and Kimberly Wilder’s eyewitness account

NY Governor Debate: Minor Party Candidates Steal The Show

Opinion from the blogosphere: The Real Face-offs in the 10/18/10 NY Guv Debate


In NY: Six Way Governor Debate Announced (Paladino’s participation was not confirmed at that time).

Video of the debate is on YNN.

11 thoughts on “Think 3 Institute: Turning Inclusive Debates into ‘Reality’

  1. Robert Milnes

    Once again, PLAS is the solution.
    Of course several candidates are going to create some sort of distraction.
    However, with PLAS that wouldn’t matter. Merely attending a debate along with voter education that the PLAS candidate can win a close plurality because of vote coordination should be sufficient to actually win.
    Assuming the candidate is minimally acceptable.
    & without PLAS an excellent candidate might get a temporary bump in polling, but that wll erode as voters realise that is not enough to win. So getting into debates is not a panacea.
    So getting into

  2. Pingback: Veteran Buffalo News Political Columnist Suggests Libertarian Warren Redlich Won the Gubernatorial Debate | Independent Political Report

  3. paulie Post author

    So, anyone have any thoughts on the debate format issue?

    My comment elsewhere (also posted on another thread and emailed to a group email I was copied on):

    I’m sure all the other candidates would love another chance to debate Cuomo and Paladino, but if Cuomo and/or Paladino are not interested, there should be another debate anyway. Invite all seven, but hold it with as many as agree to do it, as longs as it’s two or more of course. I saw Christina on this list, she’s been setting these up around the country.

    If she’s too busy, maybe we can do an IPR blogtalk with as many of the 7 as are willing to participate.

    Any other ideas on when/where/how?

  4. Catholic Trotskyist

    Yes, PLAS can work! Anything is worth a try in this difficult world, and with the LORD’s blessing, PLAS is a great solution and should work amen.

  5. Catholic Trotskyist

    By the way I am posting drunken this time.
    PLAS! Hire Milnes and I for any worthwhile institue anyway you set up. Debates can be any format you want; just let all the PLAS candidats particpat

  6. paulie Post author

    PLAS had nothing to do with debate formats.

    Any thoughts on the debate format question raised in the article?

  7. paulie Post author

    Debates can be any format you want;

    It makes a difference to some people. Hopefully, some of them will find their way here to share their thoughts.

  8. Catholic Trotskyist

    Yes I know there are diffrences. I am not so intellectual this time because Im drunken; you know how that is right.

  9. paulie Post author

    Yes, I’m not even completely sober myself,

    Plus Jersey Shore is on….

    The more I drink, the more I drink….

  10. paulie Post author

    Another followup piece:

    Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat appointed by the governor of New York to fill the vacancy created by Hilary Clinton’s elevation to the State Department, and one of her challengers for the remaining two years of Clinton’s term, Republican Joseph DioGuardi, held a one-hour debate in Troy last night. It was a dull affair with mostly predictable answers to predictable questions. A low point seemed to come during a “lightning round,” when the candidates were obliged to give yes or no answers to a rapid succession of questions. Some questions were suited to the rule, and some were intended for laughs, e.g., “Is the rent too damn high?” In the midst of the flurry, my ears perked up when the moderator asked, “Should Andrew Cuomo and Carl Paladino hold a one-on-one debate?” DioGuardi said yes. Gillibrand said no. Then DioGuardi ad-libbed, “We are.”

    It was a succinct exchange of honest exclusionary impulse and hypocrisy. Whether Gillibrand meant to say that any future gubernatorial debate should also include the five independent candidates, or that Cuomo was under no obligation to debate Paladino alone, her opposition to the idea was put in contrast to her own participation in an exclusive debate. DioGuardi’s affirmative answer, meanwhile, was a blunt endorsement of the exclusionary principle.

    Last night’s debate organizers had, in fact, excluded four independent candidates for Gillibrand’s seat. Vivia Morgan is the candidate of the Anti-Prohibition party; she supports the legalization of casinos and marijuana as well as tax cuts for working people and businesses alike. Cecile Lawrence, the Green candidate, wants to end American subsidies for polluting corporations, an 85% reduction in American military presence abroad, single-payer national health insurance, and free undergraduate college education for all Americans who graduate high school. John Clifton, the Libertarian candidate, also wants to bring the troops home, but would also end the “war on drugs,” along with the IRS and the Federal Reserve. Finally, the Rent is 2 Damn High party has Joseph Huff on the ballot, but the candidate’s website was recently shut down, and this interview from September expresses his ambivalence about associating with James McMillan. To my knowledge, Charles Barron’s Freedom Party is not running a candidate against Gillibrand, who is herself endorsed by the Independence and Working Families parties. DioGuardi appears on the Conservative and Taxpayers lines.

    Can anyone who watched last night’s debate argue that more “ideas” were expressed or exchanged between the two Bipolarchy candidates than were expressed at Monday’s inclusive gubernatorial debate? At best, biased observers can claim that they heard more of the ideas they consider legitimate or viable, but what they’ve really wanted all along in every race is a clear, simple presentation of the candidates already determined to have a “real chance” of winning, hardly considering that it should be up to them, as viewers of an inclusive debate, to decide afterwards which candidates have real chances. Too many Americans are still concerned more about being on the winning team or betting on the winning horse than with making the best choice or simply expressing their own reasoned preferences. They’re afraid of feeling like fools for picking someone without a “real” chance of winning, even within the privacy of the secret ballot. Why they don’t feel more foolish constantly shuttling back and forth, if they’re “independent,” between the two big parties, is to date an unsolved mystery.

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