So I sat in front of the TV tonight watching WXXI trying like hell to figure out why either Chris Lee or Alice Kryzan is qualified to represent the 26th District in Congress.
And I sat here trying like hell to figure what what the real differences are between the two candidates.
And frankly, I'm stumped.
Both were tentative in their presentations and offered up little more than platitudes and facile analysis of the issues facing the country and the district (to be fair, the format sucked -- no more than a minute for any sustained statement from either candidate, and often less).
On the bailout: Both essentially support it. Lee talks about updated regulations, Kryzan talks about new regulations, but neither questions whether the entire pretext for the bailout isn't just trumped up by the power elite in Washington.
(Though, I gotta say, Kryzan could have given a little stronger shoutout to The Batavian. During the discussion, she noted that Lee had been silent on the bailout issue until this past Saturday. Well, the first place that had any solid information on Lee's position on the bailout was The Batavian -- come on, Alice, give us some credit! -- It wasn't the Daily News, nor the Buffalo News, nor the D&C that sought Lee out and tried to get him on the record on the topic -- it was The Batavian ... though, perhaps I brag too much).
On the war in Iraq, both agree the troops should come home, but neither addressed troops in Iraq in context of the current financial conditions in the United States: How the frig can we justify even one more day of this expense?
Both candidates think we should get more militaristic in Afghanistan.
On taxes, both claim they will cut taxes, but neither address how the can do that in current economic conditions, and neither question the current state of the large and growing central government.
On education, both candidates say there needs to be reforms to "no child left behind," but neither question why education is a national government issue at all.
On the environment, both talk about being green and bringing green jobs to Western New York. Neither offer any concrete examples of how they might create green jobs in Genesee County.
if I have bones to pick with either candidate, it would be with Alice Kryzan.
First, Kryzan called herself a fiscal conservative, but the only example she could offer to support that claim is that she knows how to balance her family finances. Big whoopee do! Can't we all do that? That doesn't address the issue of federal taxation and spending when the government has the power to A) raise taxes or change tax codes as it likes; B) because of the fed, print money at will; C) borrow money from over seas lenders at will.
I really want to know how Kryzan can qualify as a fiscal conservative? What taxes will she cut, specifically? What government spending will she cut, specifically? How will she reign in the Federal Reserve? How will she end deficit spending? What federal programs will she end in these tight economic times?
Second, Kryzan accused Lee of lying when Lee said she has run negative ads against him. Kryzan is, she said, running a campaign on issues and she hasn't run a negative campaign. I have two words for Alice: Bull and shit. It may not be her campaign directly funding the attack ads on Lee (and I tend to believe Chris at this point that the ads are unfair and inaccurate, and I will believe that until somebody can prove Chris wrong), but I have enough experience in politics to know that if Alice really objected to those ads, they would not be running. (see this post updating this point).
I doubt many people watched this debate tonight, but if any undecided voters did, I can't imagine this debate helped them come to any sort of conclusion about who to vote for, and for the rest, all of the people who already decided that they will support either the Republican or the Democrat, you probably believe your candidate won and the other candidate is an idiot. That's the nature of these things, but really -- there isn't a hairs worth of difference between either Republicans or Democrats in any race.
Now, more than ever, this country could use some independent-minded voices calling for real change. We're just not getting it.