Markwayne Mullin debate
(Mike Allen)

Who is afraid of a little healthy debate? No, this comic is not about Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt.

Last week, it was U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin who did not feel compelled to massage his schedule and participate in a televised debate for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Jim Inhofe. The News 9 debate was competing with the OU softball team’s national championship game and the Jan. 6th congressional committee hearings, so perhaps Mullin’s absence went unnoticed by some.

But public discourse is a foundational idea in American society, and most have come to expect it from our elected leaders and candidates for such positions. Thus, when a presumed “front runner” does not agree to participate in a political debate, for one reason or another, it detracts from the process and lessens the knowledge voters have available to them for making an informed choice at the polls.

Sure, a politician who believes they hold a big lead in an election may want to “play it safe” and avoid answering questions on camera, but what good does playing it safe do for the people that politician seeks to represent? Is the purpose of running for office to win at any cost, or is it to influence society as a leader?

Sometimes, it seems like candidates only seek office to tout themselves and run advertisements that create some sort of narrative about them for the public. Mullin fancies himself a fighter in his TV ads, so if the U.S. Senate primary heads to a runoff, perhaps he will agree to a debate if it opens with some sort of feat of strength.

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