Starting at 6:30 PM, on October 20th in Verona, the Shenandoah Valley Tea Party will be holding the first debate between the various candidates for Virginia’s Senate seat. Although Republican hopefuls Jamie Radtke and Tim Donner have already confirmed their participation, I’m disappointed to say that one candidate has declined to participate. That person is our former Senator and Governor, George Allen.
Once I heard that news, I contacted the Allen campaign personally in hopes of getting some sort of explanation. According to the person who spoke with me, the Allen campaign is presently declining to attend any debate prior to November. Even with the most basic understanding of politics, one can come up with multiple reasons why the Allen campaign would choose to maintain such a stance. I’m just hoping that with enough outcries from the folks in the Tea Party and the rest of the citizens of Virginia, we can help change their minds.
I’m of the opinion that debating ought to be vigorously encouraged. After all, political discourse and education is vital to health of both a republic and a representative democracy. With proper information, citizens can decide for themselves who not only best articulates our values, but also assess the desirability of their plans once in office. Without such knowledge, voters must rely solely on glossy mailers, media buys, slogans, and thirty-second sound bites. Which type of electorate do you prefer?
Now, maybe you’ve heard about the upcoming Senate debate in December sponsored by the Virginia Associated Press and the Virginia Capitol Correspondents Association? However, for this debate, the hosts have set such a high threshold in both fundraising and poll numbers that currently only Tim Kaine and George Allen qualify. Looking for Radtke, Donner, Jackson, or McCormick? At this point, none of the other candidates will be given the right to speak. That unfortunate set of circumstances makes the Tea Party debate all the more important.
Now, this isn’t merely an argument of whether you prefer George Allen or someone else, but an issue of principle. Virginia citizens have a right to hear about each qualified person running for office so that, when primary season arrives, they have sufficient wisdom to make an informed decision. Therefore, I encourage you to call George Allen’s campaign office (804-726-2012) and let them know that you want to listen to him alongside Donner, Radtke, and everyone else who chooses to participate in the October 20th debate.