Louisiana US Senate race: An online debate for the future
Written by  // Thursday, 28 August 2014 12:44 //

techno-politicalShould all candidates who have qualified for elective office, even those having virtually no chance of winning, still be allowed to participate in all televised debate?

What if a candidate is running as a quasi or real stalking horse—primarily or solely, to increase the chance that another candidate is defeated?

 These are some of the issues that were discussed in this week’s WGSO 990AM radio-Bayoubuzz Google hangout webcast with Jeff Crouere and his audience.

From that webcast discussion spawned an idea that could change the course of the upcoming political elections but, I might add, alter the course of the American political system, as we know it.

Here are the details:

African-American candidate for U.S. Senate, African American civil rights activist Reverend Raymond Brown of New Orleans, who ran in 2002 against Sen. Landrieu is back once again, as a U.S. Senate candidate. He said, on radio (watch part 2 of the webcast), he knows he cannot win. Nonetheless, his mission is to knock incumbent, Democratic U.S. Senator, Mary Landrieu, from office.

Below is the conversation that I had with Rev. Brown during his Tuesday radio-webcast call—followed by a short segment that followed. Also, below is an idea, I offered, that could radically remake politics for the better.

SABLUDOWSKY: First of all I do promise that we will publish this audio on BayouBuzz so that people will have an opportunity to hear exactly what you have to say--they can hear it from Monroe , Shreveport, Alexandria, and Baton Rouge, Houma, Lafayette, New York and even in, say, Missouri.


SABLUDOWSKY: So look, will get you as much information out there as possible

CROUERE:Let me ask you...

SABLUDOWSKY: Let me also say, however, that if they get upset that you are trying to obviously, you are entering the race to defeat a candidate rather than to win...I don't know, to me, that's just a waste of time, a waste of effort--in terms of my watching the debate, my watching, if you want to go on radio etc., like you're doing now, and you want to denounce a candidate, fine.

SABLUDOWSKY: That's fine, if somebody wants..and I'm more than happy to publicize what you have to say in your position I have no problem with that.. I'm glad to. But for me to, with limited amount of time that I might have, or that Mr. Joe public might have, to watch a debate and have people watch


SABLUDOWSKY:Candidates who have no chance of winning and maybe no interest in winning--that's to me, I'm sorry that is a waste of my time and I think that's a waste of..

CROUERE: My friend Sid says he does have a chance

CROUERE: Rev., a real quick response

SABLUDOWSKY: Out of how many one million, $2 million voters?

BROWN: Well first of all Sabludowsky, you can't win if you ran

CROUERE:I'm not running, I'm not running 


BROWN:Let me say it here, and you could not win if you run. Many of us can't not win because we don't have the finance  but what we can do, we can bring up the critical issues that are impacting our community that are not being addressed  and that's way you're wrong at.  You want to silence the masses of the people--you can't do that Sir.

CROUERE:Wait wait wait, wait

BROWN:First of all I'm a black man, put this on your radio thing, I'm a the black man right? You know that if I were a prominent black leader in the State of Louisiana, and I had $5 million, it would be difficult to win  It is not the money, it is the racial, it is the racial polarization of the elective.  (inaudible) I'm telling you the truth... if we can get beyond race, yes I can win.

CROUERE: Alright..that's Rev. Brown 

SABLUDOWSKY I thought the election was not about race?  I don't get it

(Commercial break and then a caller)

CROUERE:Let me just throw this out there, back in 2002,  he got 2% of the vote running against Mary Landrieu , fast forward to today, he is more well-known, that he was 12 years ago, more mainstream then he was 12 years ago.  and I think that there is a chance he can do better than it did back in 2002 where he got 2% of the vote . And that could be a big, big factor in this race as Jeff Sadow pointed out in his column, your thoughts?

SABLUDOWSKY: Well, it could, it could be, it could happen  I assume that the 2% that he got way back then was a different 2% of the people that he's trying to recruit in his campaign where we says he doesn't expect to win and that's not why he's running.  He's obviously running as someone who's on a particular mission--and that's fine,  I have no problem with that, I mean, except , I just don't want to watch a debate with people on a particular mission who are not going to, really don't think that they want to be US Senator, or governor or whatever the race may be and you don't expect to be. 

I personally felt and so stated that I support Rev. Brown’s quest to make a difference and his decision to run for elective office, no matter his reason. The same goes for everyone else who qualified. This is what democracy is about. However, with the cost of television production, the lack of air time, the lack of available sponsors underwriting this type of event, and the lack of interest in opinions of those who have little chance of prevailing, TV stations are always managing the balancing act. Our desire to speak must match others’ desires to listen along with the burdens of creating an audience. Surely all citizens with a legal right to be candidates should be able to participate in a televised forum. In the best of political worlds, TV and other debates and discussions would be plentiful and readily accessible

However, that is not the way the real world works.

The costs of production are exceedingly high and all candidates do not have the same game plane. The leading candidates generally want fewer TV debates while those trailing normally want as much air time as possible. Also, getting candidates, TV executives, and other participants to agree to dates, times, formats, questioners, and moderators normally take Acts of Congress—which are becoming increasingly less frequent these days.

Also, I would assume that there are many voters, like myself, who want to know the respective opinions and personalities of the most likely candidates on a full array of issues—especially for an election that could impact which party might control the respective legislative branches of government and the US political process over the next two years.

More so, with the advent of nauseating television commercials polluting our airwaves with misinformation and sometimes outright lies, often without challenges, having the media and other candidates challenge the sound bites--are moments of premium opportunities. Doing this becomes more difficult as we expand the playing field of televised political debates with second and third-tier candidates.

There is also the issue of a candidate who appears to be running simply to defeat another candidate. Unquestionably, all candidates should have an opportunity to be heard--to the extent that they can generate an audience to participate in our political process without government obstacles. But “free speech” is not free. Not even in America. There is a cost, just as there is a cost to qualify for elective office.

If a person wants a voice, to effect change, in today’s information generation, the sky is the limits, but even the sky has its own limits. As we now know, the public can contribute to candidates and even third-party organizations and PACS that are the right fits for their respective views. We can all blog and post on the Internet. If our voices and our ideas resonate, we can grab audience. Never before has speech found such fertile opportunities to create change.

Speaking of political discourse and audience, at the tail end of the conservative radio broadcast this week, given the demand for allowing Rev. Brown (and presumably all of the other candidates) to be allowed to debate on TV (although honestly, I felt some of them really wanted Reverend Brown and others to speak out against Mary Landrieu and might not be so generous with their time if their own candidate(s) were being gourged), I offered and suggested a possible solution: An Internet debate.

Due to the technological advances, it is quite possible for all candidates to participate at a low cost yet powerful forum, especially, in this case a Google hangout webcast.

Thus, I am encouraging the various political websites (conservative, moderate and liberal) and bloggers in the state to find common electronic and political ground for the purpose of discussing an upcoming future online US Senate debate. Our other media partners are surely invited to participate in an online planning meeting.

Those media outlets, potential sponsors, underwriters and interested parties, who want to be involved in some way, please contact me to be in included.

Should we make this opportunity a reality, I likewise challenge all of the candidates to use this forum to engage one another and to make themselves available to the public.

We all know the remarkable power of the Internet. Despite the low cost of entry, due to the advent of social media, video and audio, remote connections, mobile communications, and an ever-expanding technological reach and audience, the world has changed dramatically, and forever.   History is being made, recorded and circulated in record time. Information is breaking down temporal, physical and digital walls while allowing real discourse and the exchange of ideas.

Specifically, this would be a chance for the Rev. Brown’s and the true new media to not only have a voice but to enable a broader audience to be involved and to interact, in some meaningful way.

Perhaps more importantly, we all know the incredible significance of this election. Regardless who wins and who losses, we have a chance to engage with one another, to make history, not only in Louisiana, but nationally.

It is time for real discussion and information opportunities to strike the bells of freedom. While it might be too late before November election day to make it happen, at worse, there is December, the runoffs, if any. The ultimate questions are--how will we do it, and when. 

For sure, it will be done.    


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