Saturday, October 25, 2014

Some Questions Deserve Answers

A question for Richard Briggs, the Republican candidate for the Tennessee’s District 7 Senate seat: Why won’t you debate Cheri K. Siler, your Democratic opponent?   She’s ready and willing, but you have refused to meet her on the great equalizing field of American politics, the debate.

It’s true, there’s no law that says you have to debate her, but there is a question of ethics here, I believe, that outshines your right to refuse. You have used a busy schedule as an excuse to avoid face to face debate.  As a voter in your district, I fear that a candidate, who won’t take the time for a debate with his opponent, will never take the time when I have questions.

Surely you don’t feel threatened by the relatively small amount of campaign funds Siler has raised, mostly in small amounts from individuals, as compared to your healthy campaign chest.  Humor us by pretending you believe that no single political party should ever be so powerful as to crush opposition strictly because of an “R” or “D” after his or her name at the voting place.

Nobody doubts your accomplishments as Briggs the candidate: a B.S. degree from Transylvania University in Lexington; graduation from the University Of Kentucky College Of Medicine; active military service beginning in1978; and a rise through the ranks to full Colonel; with service in Operation Desert Storm, during which you were awarded the Bronze Star. 

However, there are things at stake in this election that call for a different type of expertise and no one candidate possesses them all. Candidate Siler has is an educator with her finger on the pulse of state politics. She graduated from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in 1991 and a Masters in Mathematics Education in 2004.

On your web page, Candidate Briggs, you put the following priorities at the top of your concerns: job creation, promoting small business and limiting government regulation; improving education, supporting teachers and higher academic standards.

I for one would like to know what you intend to do about these priorities. You must admit, Candidate Briggs, saying that you are in favor of job creation, against government regulation and in favor of improving education is nothing but generic bumper sticker material.

On Siler’s website, the problems with state school systems and the economy are clearly defined:  She is of the opinion that private charter schools are an attempt by big business to destroy the public school system and replace it with for profit institutions. For jump-starting the economy, Siler thinks a state rebuilding program for our crumbling roads and bridges would put money in the pockets of unemployed middle class people.

So candidate Briggs, the ball is in your court. Whether you accept the challenge to debate Siler is entirely up to you.  You can accept the challenge and arrange such a debate or stay in your comfort zone where you never have to answer a question you don’t want to hear.

Personally, I’d like to see you step up and at least pretend that even the people who probably won’t vote for you in the upcoming election are also entitled to hear both candidates answering unscripted questions.  Time’s running out. Perhaps you could cancel one meeting in Nashville for a short debate here.

You don’t have to do it.  You’ve probably been told it runs contrary to conventional political wisdom to take an unnecessary risk. But why not do something unconventional and show us you’re more than a politician?

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