Access to presidential debates

Being a responsible citizen in a democracy involves being a part of the public civil discourse. Freedom of the press and the exchange of ideas are crucial elements to a thriving democracy.

Since the millennium, access to information to make informed decisions on Election Day has been slipping away from us, the voters. The public civil discourse is no longer public; debates no longer appear on the over-the-air TV. Because of debates are no longer public, it is harder to learn about candidates and their positions so we can make informed choices at the election polls.

In essence, myself and other non-cable subscribers are being excluded from important information that will help us make important electoral decisions and exercise our rights and obligations as citizens. By excluding us from access to information, we are being implicitly pushed out of the democratic process of deciding our leaders and the direction of our country.

Although debates are far from the best forum to hear substance from candidates, we are being asked to rely on media or political spin after the debates to tell us what we should think rather than hearing the debates first-hand. In the end, we have to rely on ideology and vote based on knee-jerk reactions out of ignorance of the candidates and their stance on issues.

We continually hear the lament about the dismissal rate of voting. Many reasons feed into these depressed numbers. Restricting access to presidential debates does not help.

One first step in encouraging voting may be as simple as public discourse and the free exchange of ideas by running presidential debates on the public airwaves again.


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