Thursday, June 05, 2008

McCain-Obama Townhalls

DRUDGE REPORTS that Senator McCain has asked Senator Obama to participate in townhall meetings before the Democrat convention:
I propose these town hall meetings be as free from the regimented trappings, rules and spectacle of formal debates as possible, and that we pledge to the American people we will not allow the idea to die on the negotiation table as our campaigns work out the details. I suggest we agree to participate in at least ten town halls once a week with the first on June 11 or 12 in New York City at Federal Hall until the week before the Democratic Convention begins at locations to be determined by our campaigns. Federal Hall is particularly fitting as it was the place where George Washington took the oath of office as our first President and the birthplace of American government hosting the first Congress, Supreme Court and Executive Branch offices. These town halls should be attended by an audience of between two to four hundred selected by an independent polling agency, could be sixty to ninety minutes in length, have very limited moderation by an independent local moderator, take blind questions from the audience selected by the moderator and allow for equally proportional time for answers by each of us. All of these are suggestions that can be finalized by our campaigns. What is important is that we commit to participate in these history making meetings to join in the higher level of discourse that Americans clearly would prefer.
It seems to me that such meetings might well offer a "higher level of discourse," at least when compared with the nature of the sound bit debates we are likely to get otherwise. But, why have such townhall meetings before the party conventions?

I wonder if this has anything to do with Senator McCain assuming that voters are rationally ignorant? I believe Senator Obama has a voting record as a Senator which makes him the most liberal member of the Senate since he has been in the Senate, and perhaps this voting record means Senator Obama will be the most liberal politician ever nominated by one of the major parties as a presidential candidate. Generally, the candidate for each party has to run in the primary campaign some distance from the median voter in the national election, and then after the nomination is gained each candidate has to find a way to move toward the center in the general election. Because most voters choose to be rationally ignorant, I suspect this process of moving either from the left or the right toward the center is usually not too difficult because there has often been some time between gaining sufficient votes in the primary and the actual nomination which opens the general election campaign. When September to November rolls around the rationally ignorant voters will probably have forgotton the speechs and policy positions taken by each candidate in the primaries. So, Senator Obama would, normally, have the next 2 months to choose how to reposition and recast himself as a moderate for the general election. If the Senators were to start holding townhall meetings next week, wouldn't there be a lot less opportunity to choose how you want to be redefined for the general election?

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