I love watching television. For nostalgia-type programming, I love TV Land, and for news I prefer CNN. My favorite shows these days are on HGTV – the home improvement channel. One sort of television I dislike is the Jerry-Springer kind of loud, prejudicial and tragic form of comedy. Unfortunately, last Wednesday while attending the Congressional forum in Signal Hill, I felt as though I was in a Springer audience. Moderator Alan Tolkoff should have donned a referee shirt and whistle when dealing with the group- I don’t mean the audience- I’m referring to the candidates.
So many accusations were thrown about that I lost count. Some spectators left early because they were uncomfortable with the raised voices and name calling- I know because a few of them called me the next day to complain.
I explained to the callers that although the Signal Tribune shared the sponsorship of the event with CCSH (Concerned Citizens of Signal Hill), neither of us groups had any control of the candidates. We told them days ahead when to arrive, yet one candidate showed up quite late with no apologies. We made it clear that we weren’t going to take any discussions out of turn, yet several insisted on blurting out comments. The blatant disregard for the audience and one another by some of the candidates was inexcusable and, frankly, just plain made me nervous.
Now, I’ve attended dozens of forums in my life. I even moderated one during the last Long Beach Mayoral race. Nevertheless, I’ve never seen such an excitable lot- not even during Signal Hill council races (those can get quite heated). Individually, the candidates are pleasant enough folks. I guess this campaigning has taken its toll on them. Is it the financial crisis? Is it fear of losing? What in the world got into those folks to make them behave so badly in public?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again now… my Jefferson Junior High 9th grade government teacher, Mr. Smith, told our class back in the late ’60s to beware of candidates who do nothing but berate their opponents. He claimed that those who told about their own strengths rather than concentrate on the other guys’ weaknesses were the better candidates. He claimed bashing the other aspirant was an act of desperation.
Wow! How profound- and more importantly, I still remember those words. See, Mom, I was paying attention.
No matter how you vote, straight party, ballot, write-in, absentee- whatever- the only thing that matters is that you vote. Please do your duty and vote your conscience- your country needs your opinion.