HICKS COLUMN: Politicians who don't like to talk? Must be a conspiracy
The last thing folks usually want to hear is a bunch of politicians rattling on about themselves.
And who can blame them.
But in the middle of the silly season, people who want to make informed voting decisions — as opposed just blindly following one party or the other — have to put up with a little of it.
That's why it's disturbing that some candidates are choosing to skip forums sponsored by the League of Women Voters of the Charleston Area.
Now some of these candidates have scheduling conflicts; that's unavoidable. Setting up one of these events and getting a bunch of politicians in the room is just like herding cats (hint: free food and booze helps).
But it's worth noting here that most of the people pulling no-shows at these events are Republicans.
Congressman Tim Scott skipped a local League of Women Voters forum this week for an ice cream social and community event in Bluffton.
Admittedly, that area is new to his district and he probably needs to show his face. His staff, while politely declining the local event, lamented the lack of flexibility in the League's scheduling. But Scott also has annoyed the Bluffton-Hilton Head League of Women Voters too, by not showing for their forums.
Paul Gawyrch, the Charleston County Auditor candidate, did not attend a recent league event. He kindly warned them in advance of a possible family commitment, but then ended up at another event with Gov. Nikki Haley.
And state Rep. Peter McCoy forced the league to cancel a House District 115 forum. He was at least up front about his reasoning. He called the league an “advocacy group.”
Michael Mulé, McCoy's campaign consultant, said the league takes hard stances on some issues, and McCoy thinks it's better to host town hall meetings and other events (like Thursday night's debate sponsored by the James Island Messenger) than talk to folks who may or may not want to talk about issues that actually pertain to state government.
Preaching to the choir?
Look, the League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan group.
It doesn't endorse candidates, but it does issue position statements on occasion. These positions are not taken flippantly; it takes consensus from their members.
Sure, they probably don't endorse the notion that rape is “God's will,” but then who would — other than a nut?
The main position the league holds is that as many people as possible should vote. And that doesn't really mesh with Republican policy these days, does it? Maybe that's it.
But this is getting ridiculous.
“This is our first time facing this,” says Joan Dehne, co-chairwoman of the league's Voters' Services, who sets up these events. “At some point, we might have to reconsider how we get the people the information they need.”
Actually, the candidates just need to do everything possible to show up — it's their job. And if some in the crowd don't agree with them, good.
Choosing to only preach to their choirs at partisan events is not doing anyone any good — except perhaps these candidates.
Reach Brian Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org.