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Stacy Parker Le Melle Headshot

Why No DNC Debates in New Orleans?

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Six scheduled Democratic debates. Not one in New Orleans. Not one anywhere near the Gulf Coast. Why not?

I bet the DNC has a logical, even compelling reason as to why Louisiana was left off the schedule. I don't know all the inside baseball with the state parties, blah blah blah. To be honest, I don't care. Sometimes, you do things because it's the right thing to do. There's no excuse for blowing such an amazing opportunity to show how the Democrats actually care about the well-being of survivors. That we actually care about the economy of a city that lives and dies by tourism and conventions.

Wait. We do care, right?

A debate is more than a circus. A debate in New Orleans would be guaranteed time that candidates focused on the issues of the region. In the maelstrom of a campaign, getting all the big minds to focus on one set of problems is no small feat; this is how vague ideas can grow into viable policy proposals. And wherever the candidates go, cameras would follow, creating chances for world media to show us new angles, and remind us of the old ones that haven't changed at all.

It's sad that we're still pulling on hands to get people to see and acknowledge what is still a grim situation. The Gulf Coast needs witnesses. Along with witnesses, she needs dedicated hearts and heads devoted to repairing all the broken fabric, in stitches big and small.

Democrats always beat the drum that we actually care about people. Yet when we schedule our debates, we don't go anywhere near the place with the open wounds. This could have been a chance to show us at our best. Instead, it's another opportunity lost to tend to people who have little reason to trust the system, or the people striving to lead it.

New Orleans is in the running for one of the 2008 presidential debates. I hope that Women of the Storm, in cooperation with Dillard, Xavier, and Tulane Universities, are successful in their bid. Maybe in the end, not having one of the Dem debates will help their chances. Still, I'm disappointed that our side didn't make this happen. We need to have candidates talking and sparring about the future of New Orleans and the region.

Lower Ninth Ward photo ops aren't enough.