>Tuesday evening was rather interesting if you cared enough to pay attention. Two events took place that I wish took place way more often.
In Washington DC, Former Speaker Newt Gingrich and Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean took part in a 90 minute debate hosted by the George Washington University College Republicans and College Democrats. If you watched the debate on C-SPAN, you’ll probably agree with me that the issues and the substance covered was quite impressive. Obviously, your humble author here never agrees with Howard Dean, but he gave responses and opinions that allowed for substantive debate. Speaker Gingrich was, well, Speaker Gingrich. One of the top thinkers in our party, along with Paul Ryan who I will mention next, Newt offered a very sane argument for American Exceptionalism along with conservatism throughout many of his answers.
Congressman Paul Ryan, someone whose praises I sing (or blog) about regularly, hosted a nationwide conference call for his new Political Action Committee named the Prosperity Project. I joined the call and I heard Congressman Ryan hold court with callers across the nation. I was actually very impressed with the questions and I was even more impressed with Ryan’s interaction as he would actually converse with the callers and he would offer real life stories to help relate the point he was trying to make.
The Congressman addressed issues from across the board, typically from the fiscal angle. There was a focus on retirement savings, real health care reform, national debt and taxes. In his usual fashion, Congressman Ryan gave answers that while complex, they made sense and they could be understood. Paul Ryan is very much the future of the conservative movement.
As I stated at the outset, this was an interesting night. In 1858, Lincoln and Douglas debated seven times for 3 hours each time. Can you imagine if we had anything similar to that today? Our Presidential debates have been dumbed down to “tell us in 90 seconds how you would handle Iran”. That’s not serious dialogue. We often see forums, and there is nothing wrong with forums, but typically there are 2 to 5 experts who already agree on the same thing, they just come about it different ways. The forums are often formal ways to compare notes.
We rarely see non-candidate debates between two people, just to talk out loud about ideas. Interestingly, the last debate like this that I can recall was about environmental issues in 2007, it also featured Speaker Gingrich, and he debated Senator John Kerry. I’d like to see more of this. We should demand it of our elected officials and of our political leaders who may not be elected officials. Notice that neither Gingrich or Dean is an elected official. Bravo to both of them.