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'Put Meaning Into Campaigns'

June 02, 1986

Daniel K. Whitehurst, in his article (Editorial Pages, May 14), "Put Meaning Back Into Campaigns," asked: "When are we going to start having fun again?" While the League of Women Voters of California can't promise to make campaigns fun, we want to assure Whitehurst and Times readers that we're dedicated to overcoming the two problems in California politics he cites in his article: voter ignorance and voter apathy.

Our "Pros and Cons" publication combats voter ignorance with impartial descriptions of the proposals on the state ballot. Voters who are turned off by simplistic sloganeering and confusing or misleading campaign ads will find factual information on which to base their decisions in this League publication, now available from local Leagues and at many local libraries.

Another edition of "Pros and Cons" will be prepared for the November ballot, which already looks to be heavy with controversial issues.

League-sponsored debates are another of our weapons to combat voter ignorance and apathy. We're making plans for debates this fall between candidates for governor, and also between candidates for the U.S. Senate. We've contacted June primary candidates to seek their commitment to League debates should they win nomination for the November ballot.

From out past experience, not only in California but also on a national scale with the presidential debates, we know that voters want and expect the opportunity to see and hear their candidates debate issues face-to-face.

As NBC politicial commentator Roger Mudd put it: " . . . the debates are being called a new form of political communication, an alternative to the brief clips on the TV newscasts and the slick sales pitches on the TV ads. They have, in fact, changed the very nature of campaigning."

For our 1986 California debates, we're working on a new approach that will make sure the questions put to the candidates deal with those issues that most concern all of us, the "everyday people" Whitehurst believes are no longer involved in politics.

With league-sponsored debates and with our election guide publications, we'll do our part to meet Whitehurst's challenge to "put meaning back into campaigns."


Rancho Palos Verdes

Broder is president of the League of Women Voters of California.

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