There were two who stood out, in civility
Elections are opportunities where the outcomes often transcend the issues. These outcomes are a declaration of the values of a community and the candidates are a direct representation of those values. It is with this perspective that I offer the voters an insight after the Monadnock Debate series.
Over the past few weeks, I had the privilege to be a panelist during the GOP Gubernatorial, Congressional and Senate debates. With 12 candidates gracing the stage, I believe that the citizens of the region had many opportunities to evaluate the quality of candidates seeking office. Although I work at Franklin Pierce University, my opinions do not reflect nor do they represent the university. Furthermore, my reflections and opinions do not constitute an endorsement of any candidate.
As an evaluation of the civil discourse throughout the debates, only a few candidates rose to a level worthy of the positions that they seek. In a time when it seems that America’s political polarization continues to grow, it is essential that civility be at the core of a candidate’s values. We face difficult decisions, and may disagree with one another, but New Hampshire deserves candidates who are thoughtful, solution oriented and civil people.
Two candidates, in my opinion, met that standard. Walt Havenstein, Republican for Governor, appeared honest and forthright throughout the debate. When he disagreed with the other candidates, he did so in a respectful manner. His message was clear, and was firm in his convictions. It is my belief that many people left the debate knowing what a Havenstein administration might do.
Bob Heghmann, Republican for U.S. Senate, might have been one of the most well-prepared candidates during the debate. He was direct, rational and understanding on most issues. Heghmann transcended rhetoric to propose reasonable solutions to issues facing America. However, these inconvenient truths may have been at the harm of his electability during a primary that feeds on rallying the base.
Primaries are difficult and passionate elections. Candidates are forced to attract the interest of the party base, while keeping an eye on the general election crowd. Often the party base is craving the red-meat issues and rhetoric; that sometimes brings out the worst in politics. It is this dangerous environment that disregards civility as they demonize others for the ills of world. Good primary candidates rally their base and create excitement among those most loyal to the party. However, great candidates run with their principles in mind, solutions on the forefront, and respect as the values they represent. There is much that I disagree with both of these candidates. However, when it comes to civility and integrity, both Havenstein and Heghmann demonstrated superiority amongst the rest.
Derek Scalia of Keene was a panelist for the Monadnock Debate series; he is assistant director of Student Involvement at Franklin Pierce University.