Two days ago, Sept 17, 2012, the Americans for Restoring the Constitution (AFRTC) held their second candidate forum at the Vestal Public Library in Vestal, NY. It was a 2 1/2 hour long event, that brought before voters several of the candidates vying for their votes on November 6th. On several levels the event was a huge success for all involved.
Like in 2010, this candidate forum brought before the public candidates and their views – without the customary editing and simplification to 30 second soundbites that the news media (whether cable or network) tends to boil everything down to. In this it was a win for the voters, the true prize that the event was designed to reward. Voters got the chance to ask real questions, that are important to them and their communities, and got unfiltered answers from the horse’s mouth as it were. [We admit that 2 of the questions asked of the Congressional challengers were ours.]
The emphasis on voters connecting to candidates should never be overlooked. In an age of instant communications, most whittled down to spelling and syntax that everyone graduating 5th grade was taught never to do, the content of those communications have lost their impact and importance. Too often, on matters of politics, the masses rely on the interpetation of someone else who was at the event, read the material, or more likely heard about it from someone else (hopefully not in a long series of the game telephone) or just blindly vote down party lines. Too often issues that cannot be explained by Einstein level intellects in 30 minutes, are disseminated to the masses by those far less capable of doing so while retaining the comprehension needed; in severely less time.
Of course 2 1/2 hours are not the Lincoln-Douglas debate. But it was a chance to evaluate the incumbent and challenger, or at least the challengers for most of the elected offices that will be voted on this November. The fact that neither candidate for Senate, nor the incumbent Congressional Representative appeared or made effort to respond to concerned voters (other than incumbent Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand contacting the AFRTC to say she won’t make the event) says more about their priorities and the ranking of voters concerns with regard to issues they must vote on if (re-)elected.
Another win was for the AFRTC. Once again they provided a forum to connect voters to the politicians they elect. Once again they reminded elected politicians that they remain in office only at the pleasure of the public. Yes, once more they made it clear that the Tea Party, for all the media bashing, remains a political force seeking change and most importantly is made of constituents that politicians must answer to.
For the AFRTC, the fact that 6 out of 11 candidate challengers and/or incumbent elected officals (to be exact, 4 incumbents did not arrive and the one challenger did send his campaign manager) appeared was an affirmation of the power of the masses and the recognition of the politicians of that power. Were it not for family needs and requirements of elected office only Senator Gillibrand, her opponent Wendy Long, and Representative Richard Hanna would not have appeared.
In fact, as maligned as the Tea Party is across the nation, one would be hard pressed to imagine the loose conglomeration of gripes that comprised the media favored Occupy Movement organizing a similar event. Or that event taking place without incident. Assuming that once the anger of the disgruntled evaporated there was a core movement of Occupy left to make such an attempt.
Lastly of course there is the reward for the media at the event. yes, we acknowledge a self-gratuitous pat on the back here. Still, WBNG was at the event for a time, and they got the editied coverage that satisfied their needs for a night. It confirmed that the coffers from the political parties will continue to buy ad space and add to the network profits. Not that we knock them for profits, we aren’t in this for humanitarian reasons and certainly not for allusions of fame or recognition (though all would be welcome in equal parts).
But we too gained the ability, for the second time, to be the only news media with 100% of the coverage. We hold the exclusive video of everything said and asked. When voters want to learn who these candidates are, they will come to us as again no one else is concerned with more than a soundbite. In addition we have gain another opportunity to ask each candidate to do an interview with us (and we did ask everone, even those that did not attend). So perhaps some recognition is part of our reward.
But moreso we are happy that in providing the complete video coverage of the event the public is served. Joe Average has a chance to learn about the candidates and make a more informed decision on who will hold office. Which we feel is the only way to attain a collection of politicians that can effectively and realistically make changes to the benefit of the populace, from the local to national level.
Also the public gets to see an unbiased and real view of the Tea Party (or at least this one local portion of it). A realization that standing up and demanding politicians tow the line to the public, and not political parties, is not an absurd or radical concept. Its an encouragement for Joe Average to get involved with politics, not necessarily with the Tea Party, and help again attain the informed choices that the nation needs.
If the Vestal Candidate Forum’s achieve nothing else but a continuation of just these things, it is a worthwhile event.