Congressional candidates participate in online debate
In an age where people are increasingly turning to the Internet for information, voters are getting the opportunity to interact with their political candidates using online forums.
Democratic U.S. congressional candidates Joan Fitz-Gerald, Jared Polis and Will Shafroth participated in an innovative online debate hosted by Boulder software developer and blogger David Thielen on Jan. 29.
The debate followed the new trend of online presidential debates, such as those sponsored by YouTube and CNN.
“I think [online debates] are becoming more popular because the generation they are geared towards is all online,” said Liana Steir, a sophomore political science major.
Thielen writes for his blog “Liberal and Loving It” in his spare time. He has also been a software developer and manager for over 20 years.
During the online debate, the candidates had five minutes to respond to each of the 12 questions posted on Thielen’s blog. They were not allowed to see what their opponents said on the forum until they all posted their responses.
The questions covered well-known topics such as health care and tax cuts for the wealthy but also addressed issues such as what one bill of legislation they would push and their bucket lists.
Thielen said on his blog that the debate purposely did not cover the big issues because it allowed for short answers, and it meant candidates would not just copy and paste answers from their Web sites.
In response to one reader’s question on his blog, he said the questions were meant to show the differences between the candidates.
One question asked the three candidates what kind of representatives they would be 10 years from today.
“I would never forget where I came from, remembering the struggles that families face every day,” Fitz-Gerald said in her response.
Polis said he envisioned himself as a bipartisan catalyst for change.
“I will be a constant force for change, and have the backbone to stand up to not only Republicans but also Democratic leadership when they are not doing the right thing,” Polis said.
Shafroth said he would spend his time working to develop bipartisan solutions to America’s problems.
“I will work to create alliances across the aisle and around the country to make progress on solving the issues we face as a nation,” Shafroth said.
The candidates also differed in their specific policy goals.
When asked what one bill of legislation they would pass if there were no limits, Shafroth discussed the importance of renewable energy research and development.
Polis talked about implementing a strong campaign and ethics reform bill to get rid of special interests.
Fitz-Gerald discussed a student loan payback to make college affordable.
After the debate ended, Thielen wrote on his blog, “We the voters have an embarrassment of riches in this primary. It’s too bad that we can’t send all three to Washington – especially considering national embarrassments we have in other districts such as Marilyn Musgrave, Doug Lamborn and the soon to be replaced Tom Tancredo.”
Thielen also hosted a similar debate for the Boulder City Council candidates on Oct. 15, 2007.
“It’s convenient,” said Janay Hagen, a sophomore music education major. “If you’re a voter, you want to know about the candidate, and it’s easier to go online whenever you can to learn about your candidates rather than watch TV.”
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer Marcy Franklin at firstname.lastname@example.org.