Political Hide-And-Seek

When was the last time you had a heart-to-heart conversation with a candidate running for office, especially at the federal level? In any other state that may seem like an odd question, however New Hampshire is unique when it comes to our relationship with our government. New Hamphirites have grown accustomed to routinely meeting and chatting with elected officials currently serving or those candidates seeking office. As I have stated on numerous occasions, politics is the unofficial sport of New Hampshire, and we choose to be active participants, not just by-standers. That is until this year.

There has been a disturbing trend this election cycle that has many wondering whether those seeking elective office actually understand and respect the New Hampshire voter. Too many candidates, especially at the federal level, have not made themselves available to the general public, instead choosing to conduct controlled gatherings, usually limited to supporters, and featuring softball questions that go unchallenged. That may make the candidate feel better, but it does nothing to expand access to a larger constituent base, nor does it allow for a complete vetting of both the candidate and the positions they hold. This approach to campaigning is one-sided. As Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Congressional candidates Marilinda Garcia and Frank Guinta hold numerous open public events, their Democratic counterparts are nowhere to be found.

Congresswoman Shea-Porter, Congresswoman Kuster, and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen have all decided to lay low, to hide behind dubious political ads or closely controlled campaign events. Which begs the question, what are they afraid of? The answer is quite simple. They are afraid of the voters, their constituents, and the very people they swore to serve. Shea-Porter, Kuster and Shaheen seem more concerned about not losing the election than defending their record and discussing the issues.

It has been two years since Sen. Shaheen has held anything close to an authentic town hall meeting. Reps. Kuster and Shea-Porter have held a few events, but hardly anything we in New Hampshire would call a true town hall meeting. When you hold your events at private facilities (to restrict access), federal facilities (to cite security procedures to limit questions, citizen involvement, and restricted use of recording devices), and require RSVPs (pre-screening the audience in favor of a “certain type of audience”), you are not only showing contempt for a time-honored New Hampshire tradition (unfettered candidate access), you are also showing your disdain for the voters. Shaheen, Shea-Porter and Kuster are not only afraid of the voters; they are petrified of the truth. Contrary to what President Obama would have us believe, while being strongly supported by Shea-Porter, Kuster and Shaheen, their policies have failed our country.What we get instead from Shea-Porter, Kuster and Shaheen are ridiculous ads about the non-existent “War on Women.” Really, is this the best they have to offer, campaign nonsense from two years ago? They need to stand before their constituents and explain their positions on distinct issues Americans are really concerned about: the sluggish U.S. economic (worse “recovery” in history), health care (40 percent still oppose Obamacare), the conflict in the Middle East and the reemergence of the terrorist threat (8 in 10 likely voters say terrorism is a key issue for them), and immigration (with an overwhelming majority of Americans supporting securing the border first, before anything else).

These are the issues a majority of Americans want to hear about, not a fictitious battle over contraception. It is insulting that Kuster, Shea-Porter and Shaheen actually believe they can distract the voters from the real issues facing our country. Yet Shaheen, Kuster and Shea-Porter have been MIA, disconnected from both the voters and the real issues facing our country. In approximately 30 days New Hamphirites will have to decide whether to vote for the status quo, for people who don’t even trust and respect the voters enough to appear before them to provide honest answers to serious questions. If Shaheen, Shea-Porter and Kuster cannot be bothered with facing voters today, does anyone really believe they will treat them any differently when the voters becomes constituents, again?

Debates and media profiles do very little to fill the communication gap between the office seeker and the voter; but Shaheen, Shea-Porter and Kuster have restricted those appearances as well. The truth is, most debates leave more questions than answers, and media profiles are usually restricted to either superficial details or one or two topics that allow the candidate to drone on unchallenged. The only way for the independent voter to get the answers they need is either by attending town hall-style forums or to have a one-on-one conversation with the candidate. None of which is happening this New Hampshire election cycle, at least not by the Democrat candidates.

As Elmer Davis, one of America’s greatest journalists, once stated, “This republic was not established by cowards; and cowards will not preserve it.” If you cannot stand before the people and answer their questions, there is no other word to describe you but a coward.

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