Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Arrogance of Complacency

I freely admit that even as I try to convince myself that I am a little more open-minded than the average voter, I certainly have my biases. I believe in certain things a certain way. Whether in politics or religion, I can enjoy and even appreciate a conflicting point of view but more often than not will defend my prejudices and priorities.

In our democratic republic, one of the things I absolutely believe in is fair and open elections. More than this, I believe in open and honest debate. In the race for the US Senate seat currently held by Mark Pryor, D-AR, we will not get this because the Green Party candidate, Rebekah Kennedy, made a request to Senator Pryor’s campaign in August that has yet to be answered. That is, until Wednesday 16 Oct when Ms. Kennedy asked Sen. Pryor at the Political Animals Club why he had not answered her request, as reported by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s own Seth Blomeley. Now Sen. Pryor suggests it is “too late” and that he is “busy”.

It should bother us all that, as earlier reported when the Pryor campaign stopped collecting money for this race, Sen. Pryor stated he takes all challenges seriously (in an oblique reference to Ms. Kennedy’s candidacy) but apparently not seriously enough to answer a straightforward inquiry and request from a challenger until confronted in public. This, in my opinion, is being less than honest with voters and is indicative of the prevailing congressional exclusive country club culture to avoid conflicting opinions and honest inquiries from “outsiders” unless or until forced to do so.

No candidate, especially an incumbent, should run unopposed, and every responsible voter should be disappointed that the Republican Party did not mount a challenge in this race. A contested race is the only way an incumbent is forced to account for his or her time in office, and a serious contest will apparently not come to fruition unless it involves a Democrat and a Republican, even while so many decry the existing two-party system.

Absent this contest there is no compelling reason for an incumbent to take unnecessary risks, and I am afraid this is where we find our current senator. He did not answer Ms. Kennedy’s challenge because he did not have to; he will win this election in a walk because he’s a “good ol’ boy” or because his family name is familiar to most Arkansans. Too bad for us all because this will truly be “more of the same” in DC. Same begets same because an unchallenged incumbent has little incentive for “change”, the mantra of most elections.

I hope Ms. Kennedy and other third-party candidates get more serious attention in the future because we can ill afford to continue as we are. Sometime soon we will be jolted from our complacency, and the arrogance that is DC will come crashing down … just as soon as we come to our senses and call all office holders to account with honest questions and straight up debate. Whether they like it or not.


Paul McFarland said...

A good way for everyone to show their discontent with this state of affairs is to vote for the Green candidates running this year. All five of our states federal offices stood unopposed until the Green Party made an effort to find opposition. A Green vote is a statement against government by default.

Full Disclosure - My wife is the Second District Green candidate.

Anonymous said...

I attended the lunch, and i just kept waiting for Pryor to say, “Debate? With you? What will talk about? You wanting to legalize marijuana? Medicinilize meth? Take handcuffs and pepper spray away from cops? Or could it be you wanting to grant felons the right to vote..FROM PRISON? No, I don’t think Arkansans are focusing on those issues right now.”
With all due respect to Ms Kennedy, that is what her campaign is reduced to…a stunt at political animals lunch. Becasue when the bedrock of your platform are the issues listed above, popping off from the audience at an event in the governor’s mansion is about as good as it gets.
Joseph Skelly