Since you depend on your reputation, you will always have to present yourself so well prepared to speak as if in each one of your interventions the future opinion depended on all your talent. “The phrase is not from any advisor of this campaign. It is from Quinto Tulio Cicero, and he addressed it to his elder brother Marco, who struggled to get the opponent at the lectern, under the spotlights, with the sole help of reflections, preparation and conviction. Democracy loses when the ground becomes so muddy that voters are deprived of their right to see candidates confront only the strength of their talent.

The debates, with their air of ancient ritual, they are an essential ceremony in democracy. And they reflect how the political courtyard is. We saw it live last Friday, when the one organized by Ser was blown up. The one held on Wednesday in Telemadrid seems like a thing of centuries ago, as daily history accelerates before our eyes without giving us time to see it go by. That day, Rocío Carrasco’s serial, “Tell the truth to stay alive”, competed for the audience; the football of the League to dry, and the debate of the six candidates to the autonomic elections of Madrid. The meeting was held in the regional government, and was broadcast on TVE, La Sexta and 13TV. And it brought together more than three million viewers, in case there was any doubt about the supraregional interest of May 4.

Behind the fight between Rocío Monasterio and Pablo Iglesias, who left the study because the Vox candidate refused to retract her doubts about the death threats received by the leader of United Podemos, Minister Marlaska and the director of the Civil Guard – sinister bullets from Cetme in mailings- , there will be no more debates in this campaign. The space for public conversation is getting smaller. The anger of the extremes extinguishes the arguments.

The political scientists they do not agree on the impact of debates on voting, surely because it is impossible to measure it. There is a clear case in history, that of the victory of a lush Kennedy against a sweaty Nixon six decades ago, but something like this is hardly extrapolated to today, in a world of networks, ideas in pills and anti-glitter makeup. There are other examples of decisive debates, such as that of the octogenarian Ronald Reagan versus Walter Mondale, who had not yet turned 60. The Democrat asked the former actor, venomously, about his advanced age. The octogenarian replied that he did not believe that youth and inexperience were an insurmountable problem. He left it touched.

Today it seems that the strokes of wits have passed away. Citizens expect that, at a minimum, violence is condemned in each proven case, beyond the hackneyed “wherever it comes from”. In Spain they already repel ambiguous formulas and whoever receives a shot, a blow or a serious threat is covered with suspicion. It is disgusting that these facts are measured with double standards. Only democracy is capable of coexisting with those who undermine its foundations. But a very clear limit is that the political debate must be clean so that those foundations remain standing. To stay alive, democratically speaking.


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