A group of armed terrorists - or traitors - or terroristic traitors (take your pick) took over a government building in eastern Oregon this past weekend, and I, for one, want to know how each of the presidential candidates feel about that.
So far the media has focused on the Republican candidates, and only three have had the cajones to say anything at all on the matter. Candidates Cruz, Rubio, and Paul each gave mealy-mouthed responses to the effect that while the motivations of the armed protesters might be honorable, there are more appropriate ways to air their grievances than a hostile takeover of a government facility. The other ten or so vying to take the Republican crown and ultimately become the leader of both the federal government and the free world have kept ominously quiet on the matter.
But where do the Democratic candidates - Clinton, Sanders, and O'Malley - stand on this situation? The media is obsessed with Republican reaction - but entirely ignoring what the Democratic candidates might be thinking on the issue of private citizens pulling stunts like the one in Oregon. Is that because they sense that the Democrats would oppose lawlessness - no story there - while the real dilemma in how to respond lies with the Republican goose-steppers who know the takeover is both dangerous and illegal, but have to worry about not upsetting their rabid tea-bagger base?
If either side had a debate scheduled this week, this hot topic would undoubtedly be discussed and candidates would be forced to take some sort of a public stand. The next scheduled debate among the Republican candidates will be next week on January 14th. Republicans have ten more debates scheduled through March. Democrats will debate the week after next - on January 17th, and have only three debates scheduled between now and the end of March.
Maybe the beer-addled hillbillies who are mounting their insurrection in Oregon will still be in the news over the next two weeks and America will be able to learn, candidate by candidate, exactly how the presidential wannabes view the situation. Whether the terrorists are still holed-up in the wildlife center or not, Republicans will be undoubtedly be asked to comment on the situation - because they (the Republicans) can be relied on to give outrageous answers on almost any subject.
But what about the Democrats? I haven't had a campaign email from any of the three candidates expressing their views on this significant matter of national security - and they don't seem to be filling the airwaves with angry indignation over the matter either.
One thing that a debate does is to drop current hot topics right in the laps of those aspiring to become our fearless leader. They are forced to cough up an answer - on national television - while America studies their sweat patterns and body language in an effort to gauge sincerity and truthfulness. It is much harder to get away with a carefully crafted canned response with the whole world watching.
If the press won't aggressively go after the candidates - all of the candidates - on issues that America needs to know about, having more debates may be our best solution to expanding the narrative. Right now we are hearing what the Republicans think on almost everything, but the Democratic message remains highly measured and controlled - and not everything can be conveyed in a tweet.
Open up the process, Debs. Let our people be heard!