Larry Bucshon – A Challenge to Debate

Freedom, IN – I, Andrew Horning, the Libertarian Party candidate for Indiana’s 8th district US House, challenge Larry Bucshon to a debate. The former “bloody 8th” is a dying, disproportionally troubled district, and voters should hear substantive debate about why that is.

I’ve spoken with candidate Ray McCormick (D) at public events several times. He certainly agrees to an 8th District US House debate if one should appear. However, it’s unlikely for our particular incumbent House Rep. to debate us without external pressure. He’s nearly famous for “managing” his public appearances and avoiding appearances with electoral opponents. That’s understandable, from his perspective. Nobody forces him into the public risks inherent in a debate (see US Senate race 2012), so he slides to reelection on Teflon carpets of crony cash. That’s the strategy for incumbents now, as Senator Young also demonstrates.

But elections are not supposed to be for candidates. Especially not for the partisan entrenched. They are for voters. And elections are for firing, much more than for hire. Votes are not supposed to be tokens cast for a game of money, odds, and Name ID. Elections are our power of peaceful revolution.

So voters need real, observable information about who and what’s on the ballot.

But instead, we’re all inundated with pre-scripted campaign sloganeering through numbing yard signs, billboards, and increasingly partisan, and very expensive, media.

How can voters make intelligent choices with an anesthetic concoction of gaslighting, tribal drum-beating, and evasion? The results are obvious: we can’t.

It is a catastrophic and systemic cultural failure that we have let incumbency and money take over a process that properly belongs to only voters.

Running for office is supposed to be like applying for an important job. Candidates should show up for the interviews, where voters, or at least moderators, could ask tough questions and expect good answers. When I ran for Mayor of Indianapolis in 1999, there were 5 candidates on the General Election ballot, and we had over 47 public forums and debates, sometimes with both TV cameras and scores of voters attending. And they were mostly debates or rigorous Q&A, as opposed to the unchallenged 2-minute stump speeches that predominate today. It was good for everyone, candidates and voters alike.

But as campaign moneybags have grown, I’ve seen the number of actual debates precipitously drop down to, in the case of my current race for 8th District US House, zero.

There’s also a correlation to the drop in both voter interest in elections and partisan division over the same time. A 2020 Pew Research study showed that 40% of voters make choices with very little knowledge of the candidates or the issues. That’s no way to run a country.

What can voters learn about any of their choices on Election Day? What can break through our overloaded “Information Age” and numbed senses?
Only two things that I can think of:

Media, old and new…if it would take its role as the Fourth Estate of government and ethical Mouthpiece of the Democratic Process seriously. It hasn’t been for quite a while. The Equal Time Rule is certainly dead. I’ve been told more than once by media personnel that, as a so-called “third party” candidate, I’d get only the press I’d pay for.

That means money. Lots and lots of money. We all know where that money comes from, and we all know that there are strings and consequences for all of us, attached. We should vote against that money and the thieving, destructive, deadly corruption that goes with it. But it’s money that buys eyes and ears, and power, in the absence of substantive public dialogue

I believe all the above is why we have innumerable genuinely critical, existential problems. Like ongoing war with China that seems unnoticed, as one example. But even within the geographically huge, strongly liberty-leaning 8th district, our needs are thwarted, not served, by our current authoritarian-leaning representatives. Each candidate on the ballot offers a radically different from the others, and voters should have the opportunity to know at least as much about that, as we hear about sports.

My hope is that the Fourth Estate will lift itself up from the chaos and degenerating muck of the past few decades, and retake its place as the champion of truth seekers.

Please consider organizing a debate…even if one chair turns up empty. We don’t need snacks or famous moderators. Just a time and a place will do.

Liberty or Bust!

Andy Horning
Freedom, Indiana