In-depth, long-format debates needed, but voters will have to take a stand, John David Dyche says

06/28/2015 04:25 PM

Calling for a series of six 75-minute, single-issue debates to take place in each congressional district before the general election, conservative columnist John David Dyche is seeking to reformat how Kentuckians learn about the issues during gubernatorial elections.

Dyche first penned his call for the singularly focused approach June 4 as a way to reach a depth candidates are currently not delivering to voters.

Since that call the campaigns for Democratic candidate Jack Conway and Republican candidate Matt Bevin have been announced with five debates scheduled.

None of the debates between Bevin and Conway are scheduled to take place outside of the golden triangle, and none are currently slated as single-issue debates. Some of the “debates” are merely forums and will not include interaction between the candidates.

“We just don’t get the kind of depth that we need on big important issues like pensions, taxes, healthcare, education, jobs and social issues,” Dyche said in an interview with Pure Politics. “As a lawyer I know it is cross examination of a witness where you really learn the most, and our candidates are not being cross examined — they often get by with superficial talking points.”

Dyche has also called on the debates to expand the questioners with media figures moderating and representatives from both sides of certain interest groups questioning the candidates on the minutiae of an issue.

“Modern society has all become 140 characters, quick sound bites, and sometimes that’s just not that helpful to get on big issues,” Dyche said.

Rep. Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, has promoted Dyche’s plan and called on the state party’s to form a debate commission. Dyche said the idea could work, but voters must call for larger debates to take place.

“There’s not been a whole lot of buy-in on my concept,” Dyche said. “In fact there have been some criticisms saying, ‘Well people won’t watch that long of a debate.’ Yeah, maybe they won’t watch it, but it would at least get that information out there, so when the media was writing and talking about these things they would have that reference point from what did emerge from the debate.

“First, you’ve got to want to. First people have to agree that we need more, and we need better, so far we’ve been willing to settle for less.”

With an ongoing look at how the media and others seek answers to the pressing questions of the commonwealth, politicians also have a “huge role” in delivering the substance on the issues, Dyche said.

“They’ll say they that they want more depth, and that they would really like something like this, but watch what they do rather than what they say. They could already be providing a lot of this, but the more information a candidate provides, obviously the more they open themselves up to criticisms,” he said.

Dyche said candidates want to deliver scripted talking points because “danger” arises when they depart from those tested notes. Part of the scripted departures can be used against a candidate in the form of negative advertising either through the mail or on television.

But the system likely won’t change until the voters take a stand at the ballot box.

“The only way I think you ever get away from them if the voters vote their distaste for them,” Dyche said. “Voters say they don’t like negative attacks, they say they don’t like big money in politics, but that never translates through to how they vote.”


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