Thursday, June 24, 2004

The Running Man - N.J. Congressman Stays Mum on Debate

Looks like six-time Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen of New Jersey's 11th Congressional District is sitting pretty. Sitting being the operative word.

As Phil Garber reports in the Mt. Olive Chronicle, Frelinghuysen has $700,000 in his campaign fund; his opponent James Buell has $1,112. Not only that, but Frelinghyuysen got 73% of the vote in the 2002 elections. You'd think the guy would be swimming in confidence. And yet, Frelinghuysen won't respond to Buell's request for a debate.

I hate it when pols hide behind a lead in the polls. What are they scared of? If you're the person for the job, the electorate will let you know after you've put yourself in front of them and matched your arguments against your opponent's.

Elections in a democracy should be a competition of ideas, of political vision, of policies. What's wrong with that? How can we see the competition if one guy is smokin' stogies in the locker room the whole time?

The media in New Jersey, and all over the U.S. for that matter, has a responsibility to use the public airwaves to strengthen and nourish our democracy. They can and should do this by providing free airtime for public debates and candidate position statements, and better coverage of campaigns.

And in the meantime, if you think it would be a good idea for the Congressman to come out and play democracy with the rest of us, drop him a line encouraging him to debate his opponent(s).

His e-mail: Rodney.Frelinghuysen@mail.house.gov

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