Our View

We encourage all candidates to take advantage of every opportunity to engage with all voters.

There was a time when candidates who ran to the right or to the left to secure victories in the primaries shifted back to the middle of the road for the general election, and that meant talking to moderate and independent voters.

But that strategy has given way to candidates who now count on revving up their base to win the general election too — appealing more to the edges than to the middle of the road. With social media and partisan media, that’s become easier for them to do.

That has aggravated divisions in the country and, honestly, is not healthy for democracy.

The Globe is reaching out to candidates now, both major parties as well as others, to ask them questions about issues, their views, their values. We will bringing this to you in the coming weeks.

Candidly, not every candidate has taken advantage of this in the past. We also encourage them to take advantage of other opportunities that come their way — including debates.

Just last week, the news out of the recent U.S. Senate debate in Missouri was disappointing

Democrat Trudy Busch Valentine was there, discussing her views on abortion, immigration and more. Constitution Party candidate Paul Venable and Libertarian Jonathan Dine also were there, but Republican Eric Schmitt declined to attend.

We think this was a missed opportunity, and frankly, counterproductive, in that there was no one there defending Republican values, explaining their positions, making their case on all of these issues.

This, by the way, is only the second time since 1988 that a major party candidate has skipped the MPA debate. Mel Carnahan skipped it in 2000, and we would have raised the same points then that we are making now.

According to the Missouri Independent, Schmitt’s spokesman said the candidate only wants to participate in debates that are televised statewide during prime time.

Both Schmitt and Valentine have agreed to participate in a debate hosted by Nexstar, which operates television stations in the state’s three largest media markets. But how does not serve rural Missouri and the tens of thousands of voters outside those three cities?

For candidates, the limits of talking only to their base have become obvious.

Remember that Kansas Republicans lost a major fight in August over abortion in part because they ignored major media in the state. As one analysis concluded after the election: “In the wake of a resounding defeat, Value Them Both is blasting the ‘mainstream media.’ If not through the two most influential newspapers in the state, how could their effort to amend the Kansas constitution succeed? After all, this campaign required a majority of voters statewide. Simply swaying Republican voters through conservative media that appealed to them would not be enough.”

We encourage all candidates to remember that, as a newspaper, we are asking questions on behalf of all voters who may not get the chance to talk to the candidates themselves.

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