We had our first Campbell Debate on February 1 and it was great--a lively and smart exchange among six panelists on a pressing public policy question. The house was packed and there was a buzz before, during, and after the event.
The proposition: This Assembly Would Increase Taxes on the Wealthy.
The audience was heavily tilted toward agreement going in, and that didn't change much going out--we did a pre and post-debate poll. But nonetheless it was good, substantive political theater, in the best sense of that phrase. The debaters really lit into the issues, argued well and passionately, and at all times remained civil. Even though minds may not have changed, the basis for differing views was clearly enriched and a model for spirited interaction was put on display. What personally struck me the most was how, particularly in response to the audience questions and comments, the issue became more complex as time went on. It's a complicated question.
The panelists were:
In the Affirmative--Len Burman (Maxwell School, Syracuse University), Jennifer Hamlin-Navias (May Memorial Unitarian-Universalist Church), and Eliot Spitzer (former New York governor, attorney general and CNN host)
In the Negative--Senator John DeFrancisco (New York State Senate), Kevin Hassett (American Enterprise Institute), and Deborah Warner (CenterState CEO)
WRVO will broadcast the debate on Sunday February 19 at 3 p.m., and Monday February 20 at 10 p.m. Check it out.
Note: This blog draws in part on my experiences and observations interviewing political figures, writers, and analysts for "The Campbell Conversations" on WRVO. To hear past interviews I refer to in these posts, please go to the show's website. The views expressed here are solely my own, and do not represent Syracuse University, the Campbell Institute, or the WRVO Stations.
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