The CNN/YouTube Democratic Presidential Debates took place on Monday, July 23, 2007. It was a first for that type of debate format and was quite popular, especially among the younger viewers who are perhaps more drawn to this more unconventional approach. CNN says it got a boost in the 18-34 demographic - the most ever for a cable news debate. And those are real-time numbers, not including younger viewers (or any viewers) who may have watched a stream or a Tivo'ed show or even the post-event sound-biteable nuggets on YouTube itself.
Here is a great recap of the debates provided by YouTube. I love the format, it briefly states the question they were asked and then shows their response. You can also watch the videos of each question. There are also the questions that were submitted but not used and video responses to the debates.It is really 'by the people', people like you and me and it is real questions from real people. There were difficult questions asked and real feedback given. You can also view the questions that were submitted but not used.
I watched several of the unused questions (there were almost 3000 entries) and was impressed at the thoughtfulness and interest expressed by so many people. Sure, there were some that were just people goofing around, but that doesn't negate the large amount of people who had real concerns and real questions and who clearly are interested in trying to make the correct decision with their vote.
Mitt Romney (Republican candidate who has refused to participate in the CNN/YouTube debate format) said "[The debates] ought to be held at a higher level than having to answer questions from a snowman.” (referring to a question about global warming that was presented on the video as a snowman sock puppet). Well all I can say is lighten up! What, your dignity and stature doesn't allow you to interact with people who don't care about all that? It reminds me of people who read a very thought provoking post and all they can do is nitpick about the spelling or grammar. I guess that is safer (and easier) than actually stating an opinion. And it makes a point that you feel you are better in some way than they are (without actually having to do anything that might disprove it).
I think that the Republicans (I'm sure there are exceptions, but I don't know who they are) are a bunch of control-freaks that can't handle anything that they have not orchestrated to the nth degree. I think they feel they know better than we do and that we are all a bunch of ignoramuses (ignorami) that need their fatherly protection so we don't run with a stick and poke someone's eye out. Shame on the Republican candidates for thinking they are too good to have a voter ask a question directly. Format be dammed, a voter’s question is a voter’s question and deserves an answer.
And there are plenty of Republican party youtube videos put out by the candidates or their people. But of course this is the format they like best, they talk about what they want to say and you listen. No input allowed.
I also think they don't want anyone telling them what to do and will go out of their way to not do something just to prove it. And they feel no need to explain why they do what they do. At the NAACP GOP Presidential Candidate forum on July 12, one lone republican candidate showed up, Tan Tancredo. The NAACP invited all the Republican candidates to the forum, put out 9 podiums, but only one Republican showed up. All the Democratic Presidential hopefuls showed up for their forum. The excuses given by the Republican campaigns mostly had to do with scheduling conflicts--just too busy to make it.
There are a group of republicans who are asking their candidates to debate in this format and their website is called Save the Debate. I applaud their progressive attitude and their acumen in recognizing that they stand to lose a lot more by not attending than by having to answer a tough question or two. You can also sign a petition on that website, requesting that the candidates attend. Personally, I doubt that their opinions and requests matter that much to the republican candidates. But if enough people stand behind it, maybe they will get the clue.