EDITOR’S COLUMN: We’re watching

For the first time in Michigan history, two women have the gubernatorial nomination from the two major political parties. They took the stage on Thursday, Oct. 13, for the first of two debates before the Nov. 8 election.

 I, like many other Michigan voters, tuned in to learn more about the candidate’s positions. However, I was met with a 60-minute, mud slinging match. This debate was theatrical at best.

It started as early as their opening statements, each spending what felt like 30 of their 90-second statements criticizing the other. This went on through all of the questions, which focused on everything from ballot proposal three, education, school safety, COVID-19 policy, policing and just about everything else. There were maybe two total rebuttals that didn’t include insults about the other candidate.

I felt like I was being transported back to October 2020 for the presidential debates. While these candidates weren’t screaming over each other, they were taking every opportunity to get their digs in. 

As a voter, I get quite concerned when I see candidates engage in this type of behavior. Debates are not about one-upmanship. They’re about communicating a candidate’s positions on major issues that affect the voters. What played out on our screens before us was a disservice.

Edit by: Sienna Parmelee Gretchen Whitmer courtesy of The White House, Tudor Dixon courtesy of Spirit of Virginia

No one candidate was more guilty than the other. Both candidates engaged in antics that we shouldn’t expect from of our politicians. With only 60 seconds to provide a clear answer on complex policy decisions and office responsibilities, it was rather distressing to see so much of that time wasted on nonsensical and unrelated arguments.

The other big issue was in the rebuttals, not that they should be called that in this debate. I found myself asking multiple times why certain points were just totally dropped in rebuttal and not discussed when they were claims made by the opposing candidate that should have been rebutted. Instead, they’d meander off to somewhat related topics to either fluff their accomplishments or commitments or to attack their opponent.

In such a contentious election — Tudor Dixon trailing behind Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in the polls by just under 10% at the time of reporting — we should be hearing the best from each candidate. But instead, between the swarm of advertising, phone banking, social media campaigns and straight through to this debate, it’s been a game of who can dig up and spread the worst about the other.

We deserve more from our public servants. We deserve people that are willing to put their best foot forward, accept valid criticism and answer up to their past and their current positions. What we don’t deserve is a skewed picture based on assertions that are not being live fact-checked and do not paint a whole picture of the situation. While I see debates as a very valuable tool in the democratic process, in their current state, I’d characterize them as a waste of time.

Tune in for the second debate on Oct. 25 at 7 p.m. for the entertainment value, sure, but please, do you own research on the candidates you’re voting for. Look for an unbiased reporting of facts and studies that are backed by credible institutions or, if you can, facts directly from the source.

If you haven’t already, make a plan to vote, as the election is Nov. 8. Also, be sure to check back next week for the Torch’s special edition covering all things mid-term general election.