Vail Daily column: Will we have real debates? | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily column: Will we have real debates?

Michael Cacioppo
Valley Voices

Michael Cacioppo

As a candidate for state representative from Colorado House District 26, the subject of debates has come up. And, the topic has been confusing. The issue of debates vs. forums has confused it even more.

In the late 1970s, my former audio visual company was hired to provide microphones and speakers for what was laughably known as "Beer and Baloney Night!" Each candidate had a microphone. Two microphones were placed in the audience for real questions from animated questioners.

"So, Candidate A, how long have you been beating your husband?" she was asked by an adversary from the audience.

The audience got to see the mettle of Candidate A. Would she answer, "Why, I have never beaten my husband. He beats me!"

Or, would she answer, "Every Saturday night, whether he needs it or not!"

Does anyone remember the history of debates in this country? Are they teaching it in the schools these days? Or, do we have to continue to do things the way they've "always been done," moderating debates down to boring forums so that the audience questions can be "moderated" to suit those that would like to "control" the so-called "debate," renamed to be "forum"?

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At first, my response to participating in any debate or forum, no matter who held it, was, "I don't have a problem debating with anyone. Sure, why not?"

Then, when Chris Romer of the Vail Valley Partnership wanted to hold a forum where originally he, and only he, was the moderator, my Republican Party chair had a conniption fit and declared that we are not going to be involved in a forum where there is not both a Republican moderator and a Democrat moderator.

Now, I have been known to often disagree with my Republican Party chair — ask anyone close to that scene. But, she got me thinking. For fairness sake, she was right. It seemed simple. Hold a debate, have a moderator from each side, allow the audience to actually participate, without some moderator softening the audience's questions, and let's have a real "Beer and Baloney Night," albeit sans the beer, reluctantly. Yes, those were the good-old days.

But, no, the local Democrat Party has refused to "man or woman up" and allow that. They want their people to control the debates, er, forums.

So, I went along with my local party chair and changed my position, because she convinced me she was right.

Then, when I stated that would be my position for any group that wanted to hold a debate, er, forum, in Routt County, I was told by the Routt County Republican Chair that a real debate is not the way it's done over there, and that I needed to show up to the Steamboat newspaper forum with an editor that won't allow me to send a letter to her newspaper until she says so, and won't allow me to respond to her newspaper's story, not opinion piece, of my opponent's "successes" at the legislature last winter. Not my idea of fairness.

My position with the Steamboat paper is the same as my position with the Vail Valley Partnership. It's simple. Allow for the local Republican Party to name a moderator and allow the Democrat Party to name a moderator and, let's have a debate!

And, now the Eagle County Republican chair seems to be backing off her original view, or, at least, says now that it only applied to the Chris Romer of the Vail Valley Partnership debate. Huh? Go figure. I can't make this stuff up, folks.

Needless to say, I have taken extreme heat from the Eagle County Republican Party chair and the Routt County Republican chair for declining to attend the Steamboat paper's forum, but for those that know me well, I'm used to it and, I am not backing down.

Maybe that is why so many Democrats and unaffiliated voters are flocking to my campaign. They know I tell it as it is about both major political parties, "the good, the bad and the ugly!" — pun intended.

Michael Cacioppo, an Avon resident, can be reached at Political2@ BusinessBriefs.net, and you can call or text to 970-280-5555.