Wednesday, August 07, 2013

No debate about the number of debates, or who should be included

Kuffner is surprisingly wrong, while Campos is just being consistent. Both reference the Houston Chronicle's op-ed on mayoral debates, with an excerpt from the newspaper the third of the following.

It’s hardly clear to me that having candidates beyond Mayor Parker and Ben Hall in a debate will yield a “constructive conversation”. The candidates not named Parker or Hall would have to be running constructive campaigns for there to be some chance of that happening, and so far the evidence for that is lacking. The principle of democracy argues in favor of inclusiveness, but the principle of imparting useful information to as many voters as possible argues for limiting the debate to those that have something useful to say.
I totally disagree with their take to include all the candidates in the debates.  That would be a waste of everybody’s time. 
Houston's future is too important to limit the mayor's race to one debate, and we're far too diverse to restrict debates to an incumbent and a self-funded millionaire challenger. Putting multiple candidates on stage will provide a panoply of perspectives and a constructive conversation about our city's needs. Municipal issues don't always make for the most exciting discussions, but the horse-race atmosphere of elections provides a more compelling backdrop for topics like the city budget.

While we hope Ben Hall will use the debates to explain why he is spending his personal fortune on an uphill battle to unseat the mayor, the time for one-on-one debates is during a runoff. The general election should provide voters with multiple options for what our future will look like. Whether the race for mayor, controller or city council seats, voters are best served when candidates debate the issues and define what it means to be a city that is building forever.

I've posted a response to both men at their respective blogs, but I'll expand on what I said there in case the comments don't make, or remain in, the light of day.

We cannot have a functioning democracy where pundits and insiders declare who gets to be included in or excluded from public debate fora. Paying the filing fee -- or submitting the required signatures -- should be enough to grant access to the public conversation. If you want to take note of those organizations who host debates without including all ballot-qualified candidates -- which is their prerogative but is just as wrong -- then watch this space for future developments.

The people who make a living in politics, those who want to curry favor with elected officials and their staff and advisors, and all other assorted lackeys, lickspittles, and hangers-on DO NOT GET, ARE NOT ENTITLED (yes, I'm shouting now) to set the ground rules with regard to who is allowed to participate in the democratic process. Really, it's as simple as that.

Anybody who agrees with me should look askance at people like that. Anybody who disagrees can go get fucked. In their arse.

Oh, one more dumbass thing from Campos.

Excuse me, but when did Ron Green become controversial?  Was he one of the fellas that ran on Highway 288 and blocked traffic?  Does he use PEDs?  I don’t know about that.

Of course you don't, you jackass moron. It's not like it was in the newspaper or anything.

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