Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Open Public Debate Online

Representative Steve Urquhart (R-St. George) is running a website called the Daily Debate. New topics actually only appear once or twice a week. Representatives of two sides of an issue are invited to debate online. They each write three or four exchanges and then readers are allowed to post comments and debate the issues.

Debate tactics, writing styles and quality, as well as comment quality vary greatly. Some debates are more helpful than others. Some invite more comments from readers than others.

I enjoyed the spirited Banks vs. Credit Unions and Patient Access Reform debates, but some of the debate devolved to childish name-calling that didn’t help advance my understanding of the issues at all. I noticed that many of the comments on Banks vs. Credit Unions were written by employees of these types of institutions and offered two very myopic views. Some comments are analytical and others are emotional.

I think Rep. Urquhart is performing a great public service by bringing public debate to significant public issues. You sometimes have to wade through some muck to perceive the crux of the views represented, but I have found it to be a worthwhile endeavor.

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