By: Jeremy D. WellsCarter County Times
This weekend I took my toddler up to Rattlesnake Ridge for his first bluegrass show. I’ve been anticipating this for a while. He loves music. He loves to listen to it with me. He loves to sing, and dance. He taps his foot with impeccable rhythm. I couldn’t wait to see him have a blast seeing a live band.
What I wasn’t prepared for was how much work it was going to be keeping him out of the way, and from disturbing the other audience members.
I’m not naïve. I’ve been the father of a toddler for a little while now. I know how much work they are, and how unpredictable they can be. But I’ll admit I came at this with rose-colored glasses on. I was thinking of all the things he’d enjoy – and he did enjoy the show, especially getting invited up on stage by Dave Carroll and the other guys in Hammertowne to dance with them. What I wasn’t thinking of was how hard it would be for a toddler to do anything for two hours. Especially during the intermission and auction when I had to keep him on my lap and out of the way.
It made me think of how we can sometimes approach politics in the same way – and not just because this show was partially sponsored by a pair of political candidates and featured campaign pitches by several others.
We sometimes have expectations of folks running for office simply because we think we know who they are, or what their party stands for. But when it comes time to drill down on specific issues, we can often find a lot of variability – in plans, in experience, in policy, and in general philosophy – even within the same party.
It’s why events like the Rattlesnake Ridge show, and other opportunities to meet and talk with candidates, shouldn’t be overlooked. While there have been a few gatherings sponsored by the county’s political parties and other community and civic groups in the lead up to the primary, I’d hoped to sponsor one through the newspaper where we invited all the primary candidates.
Because of time and resources, we just weren’t able to make that happen this year. (Though I haven’t given up on the idea for future election cycles.)
But I have been in discussion with the Carter County Public Library about co-sponsoring an event with them before the general election, to help voters understand who they are choosing from, and who best aligns with their desires for the future of the county.
Sometimes this is going to be a person from your own party, but not always. It’s important to be aware of that, and meet the candidate events can help.
Of course, newspapers can help to. It’s why we want to be a part of such an event, and to cover it. Because, much as we’d like every voter to turn up to listen and ask questions, sometimes these events just won’t fit into our schedules. At the very least, if you can’t ask the questions that matter most to you, you can hear how they answered the questions that mattered to other people.
Ideally we’d do two such events, one in Grayson and one in Olive Hill (provided repairs to the Grayson branch are complete). But, if that’s not possible, there’s no reason in the modern age we couldn’t livestream the event for folks to watch from home, or later at their leisure.
What are your thoughts? Would you be interested in watching, or participating in, such an event? Would it be valuable to you as a voter?
Send us your feedback and let us know what you’d like to see and what questions you’d want us to ask. If there is sufficient interest, we might just make it happen. And we might even have a little bluegrass picking of our own, just to sweeten the pot. We’ll just have to see what happens.
Jeremy D. Wells can be reached at email@example.com