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Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

The Markkula Rules of Ethical Engagement in Political Debates

debate stage

debate stage

Voice of America, Public Domain

Based on the premise that our political process is born out of the ethical ideal of creating an informed electorate, the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics has developed the following guidelines for ethical debate conduct by candidates:

Show Respect for the Electorate:

  • Provide substantive answers
  • Be honest, fair, and civil in all of your responses
  • Only make promises that are consistent, capable of being achieved, and within the jurisdiction of the office being sought

Show Respect for your Opponents:

  • Criticize policies and the record of your opponent-not the opponent personally
  • Refrain from name calling or other insults
  • Don’t engage in irrelevant attacks against either your opponent or your opponent’s family or associates

Show Respect for the Process:

  • Don’t interrupt or shout down fellow candidates or moderator
  • Answer the question asked
  • Stay within allotted time limits
Aug 1, 2019
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