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The importance of debate

| September 14, 2022 1:00 AM

Monica Tranel and John Lamb, Democrat and Libertarian running for Montana’s new Congressional seat, have agreed to debate each other in every county in the western district. But Ryan Zinke, their Republican opponent, has not accepted their invitation to participate. I urge him to do so.

Honest debate helps reveal what candidates really believe, what’s important, what they will go to the matt for, and what kind of Montana leader they will be. Debate is not easy. I should know. In 1992 I ran for governor against Marc Racicot. Debate was a hallmark of our campaign. It was joked that if three people stopped at a corner to change a tire, “Marc and Dorothy would stop and debate.” But we believed in the voters’ right to know, and it is one of the things about that campaign of which I am most proud, although debating our former governor was nothing short of daunting.

Ryan Zinke should welcome the opportunity to present his side of all current issues. As important, he should offer his defense of reports released from the inspector general of the Department of the Interior, regarding his record of public service, that he lied in a deliberate attempt to deceive them. It is a serious charge, along with inquiries that were made regarding his conduct in office and use of public funds. And it is an opportunity for the voters to hear about his actions as Secretary to open public lands to polluters and deny wildlife vital protections. These issues are important to all of us. The candidates should lay them out in their own words.

Now, more than ever, we need open and honest debate. As we are aware, enormous amounts of secretive money have transformed campaigns from an exchange of political perspectives into an unhelpful deluge of TV ads and social media rants that become so annoying we turn everything off. What used to count in Montana politics - knocking on doors, answering tough questions, showing up at town meetings – is fast vanishing.

I urge Ryan Zinke to join Monica Tranel and John Lamb, to engage in debates that will help make us thoughtful and informed Montanan voters.

Dorothy Bradley served in the Montana House of Representatives for 16 years and was the democratic candidate for governor in 1992.

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