VC Note: This article is the latest opinion piece from Karen Kwiatkowski, a Republican candidate for Virginia’s sixth district House of Representatives seat. As I look forward to the event on October 20th, like Kwiatkowski, I am profoundly disappointed by this trend of incumbents and frontrunners in Virginia to avoid debating.
The Shenandoah Valley Tea Party Patriots are sponsoring a U.S. Senate Candidate’s Debate on Thursday, October 20th from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Augusta County Government Center in Verona. This debate will be attended by four of the eight U.S. Senate candidates seeking to represent Virginia in 2013. Three Republicans and an Independent candidate have enthusiastically agreed to participate.
The format includes a set of questions prepared in advance for all candidates, and will be moderated by WMRA’s Tom Graham, host of the news program “Virginia Insight.”
This debate is a public opportunity for the people of the 6th District to get to see the candidates in action. It’s an opportunity to become better informed as to what these candidates offer, how committed they are to truly representing the interests of the voters, and how courageous they are. Can they stand up for what they believe? Are they proud of their record as politicians, as businesspeople, and as Virginians? Do they know what they are talking about?
The debate will include Independent candidate Kevin Chisholm, and Republicans Tim Donner, E.W. Jackson, and Jamie Radtke.
It appears the anointed ones in both of the major parties – George Allen and Tim Kaine — will be missing in action. It is unfortunate but understandable that the Democrats will not be present on October 20th. But the George Allen’s refusal to face his conservative opponents is less so.
Perhaps Allen takes conservative support for granted. Perhaps he is afraid of his articulate and impassioned Republican competitors. Perhaps he is arrogant. Perhaps he believes that he doesn’t need the voters in the Central Shenandoah Valley to win the nomination. Perhaps his advisors have told him to ignore the conservatives and maybe they will fall in line.
I know how difficult it can be to get an honest answer or a commitment out of an incumbent candidate. There seems to be a very real, and very ugly, sense of entitlement among those who hold or have held public office. As the constitutional conservative challenger to the 6th District’s ten-term incumbent Bob Goodlatte, I’ve formally invited the incumbent to a series of debates, including one sponsored by the JMU Debate Society on March 13, 2012. Even though I have repeatedly contacted his office and spoken to his staff, I have received not even a form letter or email in response.
It is no coincidence that nine months before the Virginia GOP Primary, the self-proclaimed, self-anointed, big-government Republican George Allen promotes his candidacy using a shared bumper sticker with similar self-proclaimed, self-anointed, big-government Representative Bob Goodlatte. The presumption of these statist Republicans in this day and age of real constitutional crisis in this country is simply astounding.
While Allen hasn’t had a chance to spend and borrow as a Senator recently, Goodlatte has apparently never met a budget he couldn’t support, as long as he could earn an atta-boy from the Republican House leadership, or a tradeoff for one of his pet projects. For his current crusade for a Balanced Budget Amendment, all he had to do was not propose savings, or make hard decisions, but simply vote with Boehner and Cantor for over $2 trillion in additional federal borrowing in July 2011. When you consider this record, and Goodlatte’s repeated votes to fund Obamacare and Obama’s unconstitutional war in Libya, maybe it’s clear why he wouldn’t want to debate a constitutional conservative on the hard facts.
The larger problem here isn’t that Bob Goodlatte presumes his right to avoid any debate with, or even acknowledgement of, a farmer and military veteran from Shenandoah County who has never before run for public office. It isn’t that George Allen can’t spend an hour or two in Verona on October 20th to talk about issues with his conservative competition for the Senate.
Here’s the problem. These big-government Republicans exhibit an attitude of entitlement to public office. Allen and Goodlatte behave as if they have been somehow anointed to represent us, in an era where only 6% of Americans, according to a recent Rasmussen poll, believe candidates keep their promises once elected, and in an era when the U.S. Congress is held in wide contempt by the rest of the country. I believe we’re smarter than that. I know we deserve better than that.