Friends of New Orleans is mounting a campaign to bring a presidential debate to New Orleans.
I have mixed emotions about this.
The presidential debates are something of a farce. They should be organized by a nonpartisan group, but they’re not. They’re organized by the Commission on Presidential Debates. They claim to be nonpartisan, but they were founded by the Democratic and Republican Parties and have strong ties to them. They’re also funded by corporate underwriters. In my view the debates are highly problematic at best.
Having debates in New Orleans would surely lead to some campaign promises regarding federal assistance in the recovery. These promises would be easily made and easily broken. If New Orleans becomes a political football, it could actually do us substantial harm depending on how the dialog evolves and who actually wins the presidential election.
Debates here would bring a little more media attention to our tragic city, but that in and of itself is not an unqualified good. The slow pace of recovery could be viewed as a negative by a nation that’s become accustomed to instant gratification and quick fixes. We could be further vilified and hated by those who are tired of hearing about our problems.
Still and all, I think it’s a chance we ought to take. I’ve outlined the dangers, but in the final analysis the fact is that having the debates here would represent an opportunity for New Orleans, and we desperately need to take advantage of every opportunity we can get.
Furthermore, it might be good for the nation. The Friends of New Orleans put it this way:
It makes sense that discussions about the nation’s domestic agenda take place in New Orleans, a city that is rebuilding its infrastructure and confronting social, environmental, and security issues on a daily basis.
So if you agree, please, take thirty seconds to add your voice to the campaign. Do it today, and please share this link with others.
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