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Crowd takes attention off candidates at debate

My Opinion
Ross Schulz, Staff Writer

The Ninth District Congressional debate last week at Corydon Central High School was a success, with an estimated 600 people in attendance and both candidates strongly portraying their stances on several issues.
The only aspect of the event that wasn’t flawless was the audiences’ repeated inability to follow the rules of holding applause or making any noise until the debate concluded.
For the candidates’ part, both incumbent Todd Young, R-Bloomington, and his opponent, Shelli Yoder, R-Bloomington, said the audience didn’t bother them, that they were showing passion and that democracy is alive.
Fair enough, but the passion was exemplified by just showing up to the event, not by booing, jeering and snickering throughout the 90-minute debate.
It was similar to the last legislative update breakfast in Corydon, back in February, where the Indiana representatives were continuously interrupted by attendees.
Many other ways exist to express opinions without disrupting a public event. And besides, do these audience members really think they’ll change candidates’ minds on the spot by booing or cheering? Not hardly.
Young and Yoder also took part in a debate in Johnson County a week prior to the Corydon debate, and the audience (albeit much smaller) there did not make any noise throughout, according to those in attendance.
Here at CCHS, moderator Kevin Trobaugh had to tell the audience to calm down after what seemed like every candidate response for at least the first half of the debate. At one point, he even had to pause the debate, get up from his chair and face the crowd to try to keep them quiet.
‘You’re acting like my freshmen,’ he said, referring to his high school students.
Speaking of freshmen, there were many students attending the debate, probably for their first time at such an event. They definitely received a great lesson from the candidates, on the political process in general and some hot-button issues of the time. A good example was not, however, set by the vocal adults. Those students (and other well-behaving attendees) were at the debate to hear the candidates, not the audience.
Hopefully, the next debate in Harrison County will draw a similarly large crowd that shows more respect to the candidates and fellow audience members.

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