A number of readers who attended last night's debate on the debt ceiling have reported to the Peak that it was more bumble than rumble. While a good argument on fiscal issues was had between state Senator Shawn Mitchell and the Denver Post's Pony Tailed Poet, Mike Littwin, there was no real winner because there was no resolution.
You can watch the full debate at Peoples Press Collective and decide for yourself by clicking here.
The topics touched ranged from the bombing in Libya to whether Ronald Reagan was a tax hiker. It all ended up being a much more civil and staid affair between Mitchell and Littwin than expected because as Senator Mitchell said "Littwin's tongue is gentler than his pen," and Mitchell only really gets worked up debating his colleagues in the Senate. (Ask Brandon-Mander about that.)
That's not to say it didn't get heated and feisty at times. Attendees report that there was no A/C in the auditorium, which by the end lead the audience to grab their pitchforks and harangue Littwin to the point of Mitchell needing to step in and cool down the marauding hordes.
Which is too bad, because it was a great thing to have Littwin attend the debate. As much as we find him wrong about virtually any topic he touches, he is an intelligent and self-effacing writer worthy of a listen.
We need more of these type of debates. Too often partisans sit in their respective choirs and enjoy being preached to, ignoring the other side almost entirely.
Debates are great because they force each side to hear their opponents out. Littwin was wrong on the merits of the debate, but he presented a fair case for his side, even if he struggles with economics (which he admits is why he got a B- in Econ 101).
Make no mistake, conservatives can and should win the fiscal arguments. America is a fiscally conservative nation. Conservatives just need to work at better communicating those arguments to non-converts.
Take for example, the Intelligence Squared debates where conservatives have spanked Bill Ritter on green energy and Tom Tancredo whooped liberals on immigration policy only blocks from Ellis Island. They won by convincing the undecided folks in the audience, not by convincing their supporters.
Make it a fair fight and conservatives will win.
One reader sent in suggestions for ways to improve future debates. Take it as food for thought:
- Have a central resolution (i.e. This House believes X) which will force the debaters to stay focused and give attendees an objective criteria for deciding who won.
- More balanced audience. An audience packed full of conservatives for a debate between political candidates is great, but when it's issue based, the debate would be more fun with a mix of liberals and conservatives booing and cheering each side.
- Have the moderator be more aggressive. He/she should be able to call BS on debaters and force them to answer questions. More fight between debaters and less between debaters and the audience.
(Photo credit: Laurie Bratten)