Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Scott Summers' Reflects on Lack of Civility in the 3-Way Rockford Congressional Debate

The following has just arrived from Green Party 16th district congressional candidate Scott Summers. It is posted on his web site Summers Times, as well.

Whatever happened
to civility in politics?

The Manzullo-Abboud
television meltdown
(U.S. Congress, IL-16)

"On Thursday, August 28th, WIFR-TV (Channel 23, Rockford) graciously hosted a 16th district Congressional candidate forum.

"It presented me and my opponents, Democrat Robert Abboud and incumbent Republican Representative Don Manzullo, in a discussion of issues.

"The event quickly disintegrated into spectacle.

"Manzullo and Abboud brutally attacked each other. They argued. They shouted. And they repeatedly ignored the direction of the news anchors to stop.

"Thoughtful viewer questions were almost completely cast aside.

"Abboud and Manzullo -- and, I suppose, I, too, acquiescing to a certain extent, standing alongside them in silence -- did viewers a colossal disservice.

"Voters are entitled -- entitled -- to informed discourse from their candidates.

"It's perfectly satisfactory for that discourse to be close and spirited at times. Candidates must articulate and defend their positions. Decency requires that they be allowed to respond, clarify, and redirect their thinking on the issues of the day.

"For four days, I've thought about what happened.

"We will never make progress in this country if candidates for election refuse to comport themselves with dignity and decency.

"The scope of the problems facing us as a nation demand keen thinking and collaborative problem-solving on a multipartisan -- multipartisan -- basis.

"The established political parties in Illinois -- for the moment, Democratic, Green, and Republican -- don't have to agree. Their members don't have to like one another.

"But every candidate for office MUST be civil. Every elected official MUST work cooperatively in order to get the nation's business done.

"Insults and invective in the fashions exhibited by my opponents on Thursday evening simply will not do.

"Permit me to tie the desperate need for political civility today to a time exactly one hundred and fifty years ago.

"This past Saturday (August 30th), I was in Freeport. My little band of campaign supporters and I marched in a glorious parade.

"It was Freeport's observance of the sesquicentennial of the Lincoln-Douglas debate in their community. After the parade, I lingered to watch two splendid re-enactors, George Buss and Tim Connors, portray the duo.

"As I stood off to one side, leaning against a post and watching, I couldn't help but think that I was observing precisely what I should have been participating in on Channel 23.

"Sharp and pointed discourse, at close quarters. Jousting. Sparring. Shrewd maneuvering. A bit of veiled rancor. But civility. Always civility.

"I suppose that that's my 'takeaway' from the awful television spectacle.

"If you elect me, I pledge to work cooperatively with my colleagues in Congress. I will listen, speak, challenge and cajole.

"But most of all, I shall be civil.

"You as voters deserve no less."

= = = = =
Democratic Party challenger Robert Abboud also weighed in on the debate in a post-debate press release, which you can read here.

Posted first on McHenry County Blog,where you can read the second part of Barack Obama's "Sin of Omission."

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