Tonight I listened to a live stream on a Rochester, Indiana radio station of a debate between the candidates vying for the 2nd Congressional seat. This might not be of much interest to the vast majority of my friends here, although I do plan on speaking about the bigger picture. If you don't want to read about any of this, I am totally cool with that.
The candidates are the incumbent Democrat, Joe Donnelly, who is one of the "blue dogs." I'm not thrilled with the blue dog bullshit, but all in all, Joe has been a concerned and responsive Congressman. I don't agree with all of his positions, but I like him overall, and he is a Democrat voice in the Hoosier sea of red. The Libertarian candidate is Mark Vogel, a pharmacy student at Purdue. The Republican candidate is Jackie Walorski, a teabagger darlin' endorsed by Sarah Palin. (I tried to find a picture of all three of them, but to no avail. Vogel doesn't stand a snowball's chance in hell, so I don't think a picture is necessary.)
I've made no bones about my utter loathing of Walorski, so I won't even pretend to be objective on this. However, I did take notes on the debate, and will write a few words here. My pal Milwaukee Dan #1 messaged me, said that he was taking notes, and that he was such a geek...I said I took notes, too, so I guess we're political geeks together! He then coined the term "Politigeek," and I think it's obvious that I qualify.
Here are several of the topics and the candidates' takes on them.
- Drug legalization: None of them were advocates, but all of them brought up meth and heroin. I cracked up. No one is advocating the legalization of meth and heroin. Come on! The question is obviously about the legalization of marijuana, but each of them sidestepped it and brought up freakin' meth. It was ludicrous.
- Abortion: Once again, Walorski tried to say that the health care bill allows for federal funds for abortion. Obama signed an executive order attached to the bill saying that federal funds would not be used for abortion, and that is the only reason that Donnelly, a pro-life, devout Catholic, voted for it. It's true that such an executive order can be easily changed, but to say that Donnelly voted for federal funds for abortion is completely wrong. At one point during Walorski's criticism of Donnelly, the crowd began to boo. In one of the most interesting moments of the debate, Donnelly took charge and said that no matter what the opinions here, everyone needs to remain respectful and respect the debate forum and all those involved. I thought that showed real leadership and real class.
- The United Nations: Both Walorski and Vogel said they want the United States out of the UN. Donnelly said that there is nothing wrong with sitting down and talking with people; Walorski said something about how inviting Ahmedinijad here, on U.S. soil, to speak at the UN is somehow legitimizing Iran's policies. On the contrary, I think that hearing Ahmedinijad talk about how there are no homosexuals in Iran simply showed how idiotic that regime is. The sort of isolationism espoused by Walorski, Vogel, and others really bothers me. We're all connected now, folks, like it or not. We have to try to deal with nations that we don't like, and simply ignoring them does not work. We can't just pick up our ball and go home.
- Privatization of Social Security: Walorski has said in the past that she was for it. There is tape of her saying it. Now she says no, she doesn't want that. The tapes don't lie. She also said that the new budget starts in January; the fiscal year starts in October. That was a dumb mistake.
- Stem cell research: Vogel and Walorski an emphatic "no," with little elaboration. Donnelly a "no" on embryonic stem cell research. I don't agree with him on that, but he did go on to say that he is for other stem cell research, including that on skin cells that can be converted to stem cells. I applaud his knowledge of recent research that has converted epidermal cells to stem cells. I can't remember if it was this topic in which Walorski mentioned how she tried to shut down Planned Parenthood in Indiana, but she was obviously very proud of that. Ugh.
- 14th Amendment: Walorski and Vogel did the expected anti-immigrant thing. Donnelly is anti-amnesty (another thing I disagree with him on) but said that he absolutely does not support any change in the Constitution.
- "Ground Zero Mosque": Amusing that someone asked this question. All candidates were pretty much in agreement that this was a property/state issue. Those of us in Indiana shouldn't really have a say in what those in New York decide about their own issues, anymore than those in New York should have a say in ours. However, the Libertarian candidate got off on a tangent about how the "federal government has attacked Christianity." Big load of horseshit. I don't think anyone is asking the federal government to step in and say that a Christian church shouldn't be built somewhere! More kudos to Donnelly for mentioning the Catholic convent that went up on the grounds of Auschwitz; he used it as an example of how something was moved because it was inappropriate, although it didn't happen for quite some time after some protested the convent there. Religious symbols weren't removed for 15 years after the establishment of the Carmelite convent. Still, I was impressed that he knew about it.
- Afghanistan: Walorski went off on a major tangent about spending, taxes, blah blah blah, then got burned by Vogel when it was his turn to respond: "Just want to make sure this question is about Afghanistan?" He got laughter and applause for that.
- Jobs: This was mentioned several times throughout the evening, because one county in this district, Elkhart, got hit really hard with unemployment. It was up to about 20% for a while. Donnelly has helped to bring jobs to the area with some big contracts for electric vehicles. He also got part of the stimulus money to the area, and helped to save a few thousand jobs in Kokomo, which is a huge vehicle manufacturing area. When he mentioned that, a huge cheer went up from the crowd, so I can only assume that there were some Kokomo people in the house.
- Education: Both Vogel and Walorski have called for the elimination of the Department of Education. Donnelly talked about the increase in Pell grants, the lowering of school loan interest rates, and the expanded GI bill, all of which he supported. When Walorski's rebuttal came, she said, "Okay, Joe, tell the truth---" and he immediately interrupted her and said, "I already did," and he got plenty of applause for that.
I have one more point here that I am choosing to set apart from those above. This happened early in the debate, with a question about global warming. Donnelly said that he is against cap and trade, and I don't feel that I can really speak to that until I learn more about it, and I know that I will need to. However, Walorski's answer summed up her philosophy, as well as the teabaggers', perfectly. She said that when it comes to global warming, she doesn't listen to the "liberal elitists." She goes around the area and talks to Hoosier farmers, and she thinks they know best what is happening with climate change, and she trusts THEM.
That's right. She trusts Hoosier farmers over climatologists to inform her about global warming.
For me, that was a Sarah Palin Fruit Fly moment. The fact that Walorski would reject science, scientists, and scientific findings and trust in what Hoosier farmers have to say is just...I'm sorry...I'm laughing. It is beyond ludicrous. I've known a few Hoosier farmers in my lifetime. I've known some smart ones. But while they might know about when to plant, if the soil is too wet to plant, and about what the weather has been like for the past couple of decades while they've been farming, that doesn't mean that they are experts on global warming. Holy shit, I could not believe my ears when she said that! I really shouldn't be surprised, though. This seems to dovetail nicely with the sentiment among some that opinions count for more than intelligence and knowledge. "I don't care about your fancy book learnin' and your goldurn scientific statistics! I'm a Hoosier farmer, by gum, and I know what I see!" Give me a fucking break. And Walorski can suck it for her troglodyte attitude that personal observation counts for more than scientific observation.
Okay! That is my take on the debate. There is another one (televised!) between these three candidates on Wednesday night, and I'll be watching it. I probably won't go in depth like I did with this one, but maybe there will be something new and interesting, and I'll comment on that.
I know that this race doesn't mean much to most of my readers, but it is a big deal around here. I would like to use this as an illustration as to why it is important to take an interest, and why it is important to be informed and vote! Especially when it comes to national elections. The winner of the race in my district will be going to Washington and making decisions for our entire country. I guarantee that I will do my part to make sure that Walorski won't be making decisions for all of you. I wouldn't wish her on my worst enemy, let alone my friends!