Last night, I had the great privilege of moderating the debate for the 2nd Congressional District race. I found both candidates, Jared Polis and George Leing, quite impressive as persons and as thinkers.
Polis and Leing held far more in common than I expected, but I was quite taken with Polis’s defense of civil liberties and peace, while I was equally taken with Leing’s advocacy of free enterprise. I suppose this should not be surprising given my own [l]ibertarianism and [r]epublicanism.
George Leing and Jared Polis
For the record, it seems worth recording the following. These were the questions presented by the three student groups involved in the debate.
The transition from fossil fuels to natural gas and renewable energy resources will undoubtedly leave many Americans without work in the oil and coal refinery sectors of our economy, an issue that will surely impact the lives of thousands of Coloradans. How do you plan to help these workers transition into a more long term, energy sustainable career, if elected to the 114th United States Congress?
What is your plan to make college more affordable to students in the next two years?
No Labels at CU Boulder
In the 113th US Congress there was a 16 day government shutdown; the people became disillusioned with their government yielding an undoubtedly low approval rating for congress. Can you speak to the importance of cooperation in congress and what efforts you will make to work across the aisle if you’re elected?
In light of the recent conflicts in the Middle East, especially with ISIS or ISIL, what is your plan for national defense and to deal with these issues as a member of the 114th Congress of the United States?
Do you support the Affordable Care Act? Why or why not?
Here was my official introduction, though I decided to offer it spontaneously rather than read it. This seemed more appropriate given the audience.
It is a great pleasure and deep honor to moderate tonight’s debate, participating in a process that has gone uninterrupted for well over two centuries—since the founding of the U.S. Congress under the U.S. Constitution in 1789.
On behalf of CU’s staff and faculty, I welcome each candidate here.
Being a total nerd as well as a scholar of western civilization, I can’t help but notice the names of these two men have classical origins. Aristotle, arguably the greatest of philosophers, noted in his POLITICS that “all men, by nature, live in a polis.”
Virgil, arguably the greatest of poets, claimed that the name George was a title to be earned—a farmer, a hard working protector of what is good and true.
Tonight, we welcome Representative Jared Polis and Mr. George Leing. Each is an honorable citizen of our republic.
Let us keep this in mind during tonight’s debate. In the nineteenth century, Abraham Lincoln rather famously (or infamously) became involved in a political brawl—during a debate—in which he grabbed a person by his neck and pants and “allegedly tossed him ’10 or 12 feet, easily.’”
I would ask that we would be more civil.
I would also like to remind us to avoid pure ideology and partisanship. In the immortal words of Ferris Bueller/John Hughes:
It’s not that I condone fascism. . . or any ism for that matter. Isms in my opinion are not good. A person should not believe in an ism. He should believe in himself.
Overall, the debate was excellent, and I felt nothing but pride to be a part of the republican tradition of Congressional elections—uninterrupted—since their founding in 1789.
I’ll also take this occasion to state that I did my absolute best to remain non-partisan throughout the debate. During the brief Q&A session, I attempted to moderate questions from the audience. We had time for only four questions, and I know that several of the College Democrats—standing in the back corner (my left)—were growing quite agitated. Clueless, I walked back to them (during a Polis-Leing conversation) and asked what was wrong. They said something to the effect that I was singling out Leing supporters for the Q&A. As I denied this (rather truthfully!) and asked for suggestions, one of them said something such as “Open your eyes, old man.” I responded, “that doesn’t help me.”
Anyway, my apologies for giving the perception of bias, but I can promise—if prejudice on my part did exist—it was not intentional. Whatever my own political leanings, I thought it crucial as an American and as a representative of the CU faculty to show no bias in any way, shape, or form.
Regardless, the debate was a great experience, overall, and I’m grateful to the various student groups for trusting me with such an honor. And, an equally huge thanks to Representative Polis and Mr. Leing for their intelligence, spiritedness, and civility.