Tune in! Listening to the people

In this election year, it seems that around every corner you find a political function about some key issue. Sometimes they're Left and sometimes they're Right, but it's good to know that you can always count on PBS to be dead-on neutral in their programming.

Charlottesville is one of 17 cities chosen for a national event called "Deliberation Day." It happened October 16 at PVCC, as 100 citizens– hand-picked to represent a cross section of the electorate– assembled for PBS affiliate WHTJ.

At the beginning of the day, the citizens split into small groups to discuss national security, jobs, and the economy. After several hours of discussions, the groups voted on three questions to put to a panel of four Virginians: Lt. Governor Tim Kaine, Attorney General Jerry Kilgore, former Ambassador to Kuwait Nathaniel Howell, and Darden professor Ming-Jer Chen.

The questions were hard, and the answers were divided. When posed with a question of working with allies to defend ourselves, Republican Kilgore responded that if we have to, "we'll go it alone," and boos rang out from the audience. Kaine cautioned that if we invade other countries without sufficient reason, we set a bad example for the rest of the world. (The audience cheered.)

When asked when our troops would be coming home, Howell warned that leaving too early would be disastrous and that they'll return when there's some sense of stability. Chen put a global perspective on the jobs issue, saying that everyone outsources to be more competitive– which benefits the consumer.

Ultimately, we all have to make hard choices. And thanks to WHTJ we can explore the important questions– and see if any Charlottesvillians make the national broadcast!

WHTJ's taping will be part of a one-hour program entitled, "What's at Stake?" airing Thursday, October 28 at 8pm and repeating Saturday, October 30 at 5:30pm. Excerpts may appear on "Time to Choose," hosted by Jim Lehrer, airing on WHTJ at 8pm Thursday, October 21.

The politically charged audience gets ready for some topical talk at PVCC.

The Miller Center's Brian Balogh moderates the economic discussion.

A group of many sizes, ages, shapes, and colors weigh the pros and cons of U.S. foreign and domestic policy.

The panel from left: former Ambassador to Kuwait Nathaniel Howell, Attorney General Jerry Kilgore, Darden professor Ming-Jer Chen, Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine, and host Mary-Lily Lee

Nathan Piazza deliberates in the small group discussion.

The panel is framed on screen by the PBS camera.