If the outcome of the election hinges on a televised debate between any or all of the party leaders then democracy in New Zealand is in a sorry state.
If we can’t work out what we believe in, what the parties stand for, what they’re promising and how that matches our own philosophy without watching eight of them shouting at and over each other for 60 minutes, minus numerous advertising breaks, then we’re the ones at fault.
It’s not Helen Clark and John Key who have declined to debate the wee partys’ leaders, nor TV3 which has decided not to bother with a debate between the wee partys’ leaders, it’s us.
We’re the ones who’ve got the right to vote and we also have the responsibility to exercise it intelligently. If we’re going to do that a TV debate won’t make any difference. And if we’re not going to vote intelligently there are plenty of other ways open to us to work out who to vote for or against, if we bother to vote at all.
Not convinced? TV3’s news and current affairs director Mark Jennings says these aren’t big rating events. That means that most of us make up our decisions independent of televised debates and chances are the majority of those who tune in are political junkies who will only have their biases confirmed anyway.
The fuss about it is nothing more than a political storm in a tea cup of free publicity.
But if there are a few lost souls out there unable to work out who should govern us for the next three years without the assistance of a TV debate, I’d be happy to help them – nothing I could say would be any less intelligent than a leaders’ shouting match.