"Freedom is hammered out on the anvil of discussion, dissent, and debate," Hubert H. Humphrey said.|
Well, they certainly beat the heck out of soundbytes and political attacks that pass for political discourse these days. Voters rarely find themselves with the information they need to make wise choices at the polls. It's particularly tough in lower profile races, where negative ads substitute for direct contact with the candidate in candid moments. That's why debates so long have been popular. They can be valuable to both the voters and the candidates, even when they are simply statements of views with little interaction or discussion between the candidates.
They are one more tool to help voters measure a political hopeful's substance. For that reason, we have done our part to help foster this important discussions. We've offered our support to as many meetings as possible between Congressman Phil Hare, D-Rock Island and his GOP opponent, Bobby Schilling.
Now, Mark Lioen, the Republican challenging Rock Island Democrat state Rep. Pat Verschoore in the 72nd Illinois House District, has issued his own invitation in a letter July 6 and shared with us via e-mail. Though Mr. Lioen leaves details of the format open to discussion, he suggests a neutral third-party moderator and an agreed-upon neutral venue such as Augustana College.
"A proper debate intent on clearly defining our positions would benefit voters and help insure the right candidate is elected to office in November," he wrote.
It's hard to disagree. We urge Mr. Verschoore and Mr. Lioen and their campaigns to work together to make time for a discussion of the issues facing the 72nd District, as well as the state. Indeed, such information is critical as voters ponder which of the candidates is the best one to lead Illinois out of the financial mess in which it finds itself.
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