Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Only A Certain Few?

Liberty. Transparency. Personal responsibility. An informed electorate. Free speech. The people's right to know. Open discourse. Freedom of choice. Slogans? Words? Just words?!

We've all seen them, read them, heard them, some have even spoken them, but do they mean anything? Are they just words to be tossed around during political discourse to create/show a difference between antagonists or do we mean them? Are we willing to apply them to everyone and not just people we like or agree with? Have you said these words? Do you mean them? Do you apply them in your daily life? Or do you simply write/mouth them to use them as "weapons" against those you see as "the enemy?"

I have paid attention to politics my entire adult life. Watching my elected officials, keeping track of their words and deeds. Writing letters to them to complain or offer support, calling them to make my thoughts known on myriad subject matter, and trying to encourage others to get involved and pay attention.  I have seen many people in the political arena use these words, both candidates, incumbents, and their followers. Sadly, it seems that all too often those words are empty and used as mere rhetorical ammunition in political battles. Their real and consistent application are all too rare indeed. Oh, they mean them when they are referring to their rights or the rights of someone they like/support, but when it comes to "those other people," why they just can't bring themselves to stand behind those words and their meanings.

Comes again another election, 2014. There are races to be run and won. Stands to be made, information to be disseminated, voters to be wooed and won over. The people have to look out upon the political landscape to see who is running, what their choices are, what the candidates stand for and believe, and then, ultimately, to make a choice for their next representative. It is our form of government - a constitutional republic. The people choose and in order to choose wisely they must be informed. They must hear from ALL the potential options, in order to make a truly educated decision. Should the voters be expected to exercise their rights as citizens in a free republic? Should they be expected to be informed/educated about their choices? Or should they simply go along with the crowd and/or vote for whomever those "in charge' tell them to vote for? How do you envision the United States of America? How do you envision our system of government?

Here in Virginia we have two races that are of particular interest to me. One is for Senator, the other for the House of Representatives in the 7th district. Now anyone who has read more than a couple of my FaceBook posts knows who I am supporting in the 7th, I have made no secret of it. However, my intent here is not to shill for any particular candidate, it is to point out what I see as gross hypocrisy and attempt to encourage different behavior. Whether I succeed or not is for others to decide.

As with most elections the call for debates has been heard, yet, again, it is sadly ignored. Do the people, the VOTERS, or do they not have a right to hear from ALL candidates on the ballot? Is the exclusion of legitimate candidates really in keeping with your view of the kind of freedom we are supposed to espouse as Americans? I am not talking about some wild-eyed street corner screamer, claiming to be running for office, having dome nothing more than create a sign and pick a corner to yell from. I am not talking about people who simply say, "I'm a candidate," but have done none of the real work necessary to become one. I am speaking of people who have created the team/network necessary to put "boots on the ground" and do the work necessary to get their names on the ballot. They are official, they did the work, they met the requirements, and they got on the ballot. When you step into the voting booth in November their names will be among your choices to vote for. Therefore, do they or do they not share the same responsibilities and thus deserve the same consideration as any other candidate? Should the voters be allowed to hear them speak? Should the voters, or their proxies, be allowed to ask them questions? And in doing so will this allow the voters to make a more informed and educated decision?

A lot of people I know, a lot of my FaceBook friends, scream and holler about REAL fairness and applying the liberties that our Constitution guarantees to everyone, not just a select few. Yet when it comes to political debates these same people seem all too comfortable with the exclusion of "certain" candidates. If that candidate is not from their party then he does not deserve the same freedoms and rights that their candidate does. I find this more than a little disappointing and it causes me to question why I am and remain friends with such people. That is a dilemma I must confront within myself.

In the Senatorial race we have three candidates - Ed Gillespie (R), Mark Warner (D), and Robert Sarvis (L). My point here is not to pick one over another or to tell you who I plan to vote for. I simply wish to understand why many of you are comfortable with one of these candidates being excluded from the debates. In the 7th district there are also three candidates - David Brat (R), Jack Trammell (D), and James Carr (L). Again, I will not use this forum to encourage you to vote one way or another, I will simply point out that the voters have a right to hear from all three candidates in any and all debates. How else can the voters compare the candidates on the same questions at the same time?

I have heard many of you say things like, "Those Libertarians are just crazy. All they want is to legalize drugs." or "Those Libertarians are too far left, or too much this, or too much that...." Fine, you have your opinion and you are entitled to it. But aren't the other voters entitled to make up their own minds without you and others stifling any voices in the debate? If the Libertarians are indeed just a bunch of crazy, drug-idled hippies, then won't the voters be able to discern that for themselves in an open debate? Or do you think that you are so much smarter than the average voter that you should be able to determine who the voters can and cannot hear from? Which party does that sound more like? And don't tell me how you had nothing to do with the exclusions, it was the debate organizers, etc. Your silence speaks volumes. You and I both know that if you truly believed the words that I opened with, words that you yourself have used, then you would make it clear to any debate organizers that you demand that ALL candidates be included and heard from. Don't even try to tell me I am wrong on this, you know I am not.

Let the Libertarians, or any other party/candidate, who has gotten on the ballot be heard. Let the voters gather information. Let the voters compare, and ultimately let the voters decide who they wish to vote for. Or does freedom, transparency, and the right to be heard only apply to "certain people?"