Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Candidates, let the debates begin
- Is there still freedom after speech?
- More than two positions on abortion
- Move past our history of violence
- Cox is a willing partner
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From the RoundTable blog
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Charles E. Strickler
Strickler, of Harrisonburg, is a retired dentist. He now works on climate change issues.
Several years ago, I attended a meeting on James Madison University's campus to discuss new Environmental Protection Agency regulations to help clean up the Chesapeake Bay. As I approached the doors, there seemed to be many disgruntled farmers headed in to make their feelings known. It reminded me of the old "cattlemen versus the sod busters" situation, only this time it was the "farmers of the valley versus the crabbers of the bay."
The meeting was going pretty well as the farmers were praised for all they had done to make their streams cleaner, but there was still more to be done. Tensions eased somewhat as time went on.
Then toward the end of the meeting, the presenters recognized U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-6th District.
I was very disappointed with the way my representative handled the situation.
He did not ask for any information from those gathered or engage in an intelligent conversation, but proceeded to tell the people who elected him what he was going to do. He was going to do everything he could to bring down the EPA. The room became very agitated again.
What I would have liked to have seen from our representative would have been someone who would have asked questions of the audience about their concerns and how the new regulations were going to affect them. He should have then done the same in other areas of his district before making a decision on what action he might take to represent his constituents, including the nonfarmers in the room.
The process of a good democracy requires that each of us educate ourselves on issues and then convey our thoughts to those who represent us, knowing that most issues are not black and white.
It was neighbor against neighbor in the fencing wars of earlier times, but with more understanding, we learn that crabbers are our neighbors, too. Of course, we want our issues represented, and decisions in government are very tough.
I send my representative to Washington, D.C., to represent me, my district and my country. If he or she thinks and works only for me, they might as well stay local to work, but I want what is best and fair for all concerned, and tough decisions are now global.
We are in another election season. Do we have the right person representing us in Congress?
What does he think about the Citizens United case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court and the money that seems to control Congress?
What does he think about gerry-mandering, which helps keep elected officials in office and quashes public debate? If he doesn't like Obamacare (which he has voted against), how would he fix it?
There is another thoughtful candidate running to represent us, Democrat Andy Schmookler. If we do not find out how he thinks, listens and communicates, how are we going to make a good choice for the best person to represent us?
Our founding forefathers got together and debated the issues. Elections were based on people really finding out what the candidates thought and getting a sense of their thought processes and their character. It appears now that TV ads and mailed fliers are about the only way we learn about candidates. Some can read Web pages; some don't have that opportunity. Face to face always gives a better feel for the candidate.
If we are unhappy with the way things are going in Washington, we should make every effort to educate ourselves. The two candidates who want to represent us should be willing to engage in several good debates, which we should make every effort to attend. [Goodlatte has agreed to at least one debate with Schmookler.] Our information should not be filtered through the media, TV, radio, phone calls or the papers.