Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Dismal Array of Local Candidates

Jackson County Candidate Forum:
Why all the candidates were pretty much pathetic

I attended our local Candidate's Night Forum on Monday Night, October 15th, at the new Jackson County Public Library. Sponsored on by The Smoky News, The Canary Coalition, The League of Women Voters, and the local Occupy WNC group, I was the assistant moderator at the forum which basically meant I pretty much had nothing to do but listen.

I originally wrote a slightly different version of this post as a Letter to the Editor of the Smoky Mountain News, but since they declined to publish it, I've decided to post on my blog and then tag the hell out if it so it can get picked up locally as much as possible. If you're local, too, you can help get it out there so as many people as possible see it.

Starting at the end, let me state that when the debate was over, I left with the feeling of being terribly let down and disappointed by candidates on both sides of the political paradigm. I thought to myself, “how do we navigate all of the critical problems that we face in Jackson County, North Carolina, and the nation, with the extreme lack of critical thinking, mediocrity, dogmatism, and simple lack of knowledge displayed at the forum by these candidates? This was the best we could do?

In fairness, neither Mark Meadows or Hayden Rogers, candidates for US House of Representative District NC11, bothered to show up. Below, I’ve chosen a couple of examples and am including who I think made the most egregious statements and responses during the evening. There were, unfortunately, many more. 

The first was Senator Jim Davis’ statement claiming Obama gutted Medicare by taking $717 billion out of it to fund Obamacare. This is a statement that was debunked when both Romney and Ryan made it in their respective debates. Independent fact checker says that’s simply not true. The law stipulates that “guaranteed Medicare benefits won't be reduced, and it adds some new benefits, such as improved coverage for pharmaceuticals." But some Republican politicians, like Romney, Ryan, and apparently Davis, never let the facts get in their way and are claiming the money has already been taken. I will give Senator Davis the benefit of the doubt thinking he may not know this and is just be repeating party rhetoric, but that would be almost as bad. We should all demand integrity from those who represent us. Although I was born into a democratic family, I’ll take a republican with integrity over a Democrat without it anytime…and visa-versa. Ask yourself where your moral compass is on that one. Are you willing to win at all costs, including not telling the truth?

On the other side---the Democrats, particularly John Snow, Davis’ Democrat opponent---failed miserably, much like President Obama in the first debate by not calling out Senator Davis about this gross misrepresentation.  Here was an opportunity to use Reagan’s famous line by saying, “well, there you go again.” Snow seemed out of his league, vague, somewhat confused, and did not carry himself with a confidence that would inspire even some Democrats to vote for him. For example, when the subject of GMO food labeling came up and Davis said that he had been eating genetically modified food for years and he was still living, and added, “I think we have so many other things to worry about, that that is way down on my list,” Snow simply said, “I agree with him.” 

Both of these candidates showed a complete lack of knowledge and understanding about a very serious multi-tiered problem that threatens people from corporate corruption and fascism, to extreme health and crop problems that are beginning to show up. The list of countries that have and are banning GMO foods is rising almost weekly. Apparently, neither candidate has seen the scientific study showing GMO tumors on subject rats fed GMO foods or they are ignoring it. One candidate shows disdain for those of us who are concerned about our food supply and the other isn’t knowledgeable or quick-witted enough to turn that easily-lobbed softball into a run. The Democrats also missed several opportunities to talk about the actual dangers of fracking to our precious and rapidly dwindling clean water supply, instead choosing to amaze us with, “I’m against it.”

NC house Candidate Joe Sam Queen spent much of the evening sounding as if he had lost his compass, and in typical liberal fashion, seemed like he wasn’t sure which direction he should head. I liked Queen, but have to admit that, even though he probably made more sense than any of the other candidates, he did little to inspire confidence. Queen’s opponent, House candidate Mike Clampitt kept making references to his religious perspectives and how they guided him, in a way that made me question if he might be ingenuously playing to that part of the voter spectrum. 

All of the candidates pretty much stuck to the simplistic talking points of their party and were pro-growth and pro jobs, for that, the audience was the loser. There was a clear lack of unique problem solving from either side of the traditional right and left political spectrum, and this, in light of the tremendous problems we face, locally, nationally, and globally, is pretty sad. Paraphrasing Einstein, it was clear from the evening that the level of thinking that was trying to solve our state and local problems, is the same level of thinking that got us there in the first place. We’ve got to do better.

Maybe it's time to start running a new breed of candidates.

You can watch the entire painful debate here:

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