Following is an Op-Ed I submitted to The Albuquerque Journal. It was rejected; so, I posted it to an on-line discussion group and to an activist group. I now post it here for the same reason that it was worth writing: it is a story that illustrates a particular modus operandi that is becoming characteristic of a group of individuals for which such a characteristic should be anathema.
When you encounter in your friends an indifference to your personal values, you can be sure such individuals are not your friends. When you perceive that the values your firiends claimed they shared with you are merely mouthings, you can be sure you are better off without them. Such dissembling will in time devolve into a serious threat to your well-being. It is better you call their bluff and go your separate ways.
What happened during a particular “Meet the Candidates Forum” in New Mexico revealed an instance of a smilar kind.
My Op-ed is meant to call a bluff.
On August 15 the East Mountain Tea Party held a “Meet the State Candidates” Forum at the Moriarty (New Mexico) Lion’s Club. Democrats and Republicans alike were invited.
Democrat Invitees: For Governor (Denish) and Lt. Governor (Colón) candidates, the Colón office responded that someone from Colón’s office would represent both candidates. Secretary of State Mary Herrera early in August confirmed she would come. State Auditor Hector Balderas said he would get back to the EMTP, and yet subsequently did not respond to several emails and phone calls. State Treasurer James B. Lewis said he would try to come personally, if not, would send a representative. Attorney General Gary King called said he definitely would have someone from his office at the event. State Commissioner of Public Lands Ray Powell said he was unable to attend.
Republicans Invitees: For Governor (Martinez) and Lt. Governor (Sanchez) respectively, Mr. Sanchez confirmed he would come and would represent both candidates. For Secretary of State Dianna Duran confirmed to come. For State Auditor Errol Chavez confirmed to come. For State Treasurer Jim Schoonover confirmed to send someone from his office. For Attorney General Matt Chandler said he would send someone from his office. For State Commissioner of Public Lands Matt Rush confirmed to come.
Therese Cooper, co-founder of the East Mountain Tea Party (with Char Tierney) was to act as a moderator to introduce the candidates. Dr. Rick Morlen, President of the Board of the Albuquerque Tea Party, agreed to moderate the question and answer session.
Everything seemed A-Okay. Everyone was excited. The unusual forum featuring both Republicans and Democrats promised to be an interesting and orderly exchange of views. The prospect electrified voters.
But something happened, the cause of which can only be guessed at.
Two days before the event Mary Herrera’s office called to say she could not come and that they would get back to the EMTP. A similar call regarding Denish and Colón came from the Colón campaign—again, two days before the event. Neither office contacted the EMTP again.
When the time for the Forum arrived, not a single Democrat candidate nor his representative appeared. All Republicans, except two, came as promised. Matt Chandler’s representative e-mailed the EMTP to explain his failure to appear. The next day he telephoned, apologizing further. Errol Chavez sent word that his doctor recommended he rest and that he would not be able to attend.
But from the Democrats, candidates and representatives alike: silence.
Nonetheless, the forum went forward on schedule. Three questions were asked of every candidate. Each was given five minutes to answer. At the end of the round, the audience was given opportunity to ask questions. Each candidate was given two minutes to answer.
One hundred and seventeen New Mexicans filled the room, eager to discover what each candidate had to say for himself. They heard what the Republicans had to say. But what happened to the Democrats? Why did all they all bow out?
Did the Democrat Party leadership tell Democrats not to appear? Was there an agreement among the Democrat candidates to sandbag the Tea Party forum? Was it the hubris of the incumbent dismissing his challenger? Or was there a deliberate effort to side step what they feared might be questions that put them on the spot?
Yet each question would have been asked of both party candidates. That was the purpose of the forum: to compare answers to questions, such as: “Corruption has become widespread on both federal and state level. Tell us your plans to put an end to this national and state scandal and to protect the citizens of NM from further corruption.”
The inarguable fact is that the Democrats left the public in the dark about their motives for quitting the forum—and about their views. Does this indicate that Democrats generally cannot be trusted to keep their word? Does it suggest that Democrats do not like being pinned down to what they really think? Is it possible that the Democrats were frightened of their Republican opponents as has been widely discussed?
Whatever the case, at the most charitable it was discourteous behavior. The Democrat invitees showed poor judgement in accepting the invitation and/or promising representatives in their stead, then all—politician and representative alike—failing to appear without a word to the East Mountain Tea Party organizers, their Republican colleagues, or the electorate.
Someone remarked, “It is hard to vote for someone when they don’t show up to their job interview.” One might consider such things when deciding whom to vote for come November.
(FYI: A list of the questions asked the candidates can be read at www.eastmtteaparty.com)