(The following is the opinion of the Editorial Board of the McPherson Sentinel – Published July 17, 2010)
Campaigns are not easy. They are the longest, most grueling job interviews imaginable. Candidates are not only expected to prove themselves to the voters, but show how and why they would do a better job than their opponents. Keeping that in mind, some attack and defense on the part of candidates is expected. The Kansas Republican primary for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sam Brownback, however, has become a campaign of a different nature.
The Tiahrt-Moran race has been a race to the bottom. What could have been a great debate was turned very quickly into a mudfest. Real issues, like rural sustainability and economic development are being all but ignored, while issues like a rising federal deficit and encroaching bureaucracy are simply fodder for a debate on who is the more conservative.
A difference without a distinction is no difference, and there are few truly distinguishing points between Moran and Tiahrt. We find them both to be suitably conservative. They both believe in free markets, protecting the unborn, limited government and all of the other standards found on the right. However, using context-free, cherry picked votes, both sides have attempted to show how the other is a total hypocrite on these issues. Both sides claim the other one has gone negative first, and they’re simply responding to set the record straight. While these tactics might be suitable on an elementary school playground, they do not become individuals hoping to be the next United States Senator from Kansas.
Campaigns are about the people that candidates want to represent, not the candidate themselves. However, the race between Moran and Tiahrt has been a selfish one. They go on and on about how conservative they are, how much of a fighter they are and how much they do or don’t come home on the weekends. None of this, in the final analysis, truly matters beyond an exercise in vanity. These are idiosyncrasies, not issues. Likewise, we are not impressed with either campaign’s ability to respond to the other side. Indeed we have seen responses to responses to responses. We aren’t interested in response. We are interested in ideas that do something to address the real-life issues this state faces. It would be a refreshing change of pace.
Moran and Tiahrt are honorable public servants who undoubtedly love Kansas, having devoted years of faithful service to its citizens. We call on both to keep that in mind, and cease the attack and response cycle that has dominated this race. If it continues, no matter who wins the election, the voters will lose. They lose the debate and discussion they are entitled to. They lose faith in the ability of campaigns to truly speak to the issues that affect them. It’s time for Moran and Tiahrt, along with their more fervent supporters, to put the mud down, act like grownups and treat voters with the respect they deserve.
The McPherson Sentinel