WNC congressional candidates Heath Shuler and Charles Taylor planned to debate yesterday on a conservative local radio station, WWNC.
This is unusual since Taylor — a Carolina congressman since 1991 — hasn’t agreed to debate anybody in over ten years.
A little background on the race from my perspective as a card-carrying political liberal (I don’t much care for the term progressive; I’m not sure that a progressive is anything more than a liberal with broadband and better critical thinking skills):
Shuler is a deeply religious anti-abortion former-Republican Democrat. He’s also a young and handsome former NFL football player. He has big-money backing from the Democratic party and currently leads in the polls. Many liberals are repelled by his anti-abortion stance. Many liberals embrace him as a far lesser evil than Taylor. Many, I hope, view him both ways.
Charles Taylor is a corrupt politician of the worst stripe. He calls himself a tree farmer when it’s public record that he receives far more income from banking ventures conducted in Russia with a former KGB official. He’s a shady international banker and multimillionaire, not a Carolina tree farmer. He’s been involved in tax disputes as he, a millionaire, tried to wiggle out of paying taxes on one of his rental properties.
I wanted to listen to these two debate each other, if only for the spectacle.
But I won’t get my chance. In a move of reprehensible political skittishness to ACTUALLY DEBATE HIS OPPONENT, Taylor scheduled himself for a radio debate and then stood Shuler up. Here’s what the Citizen-Times has to say:
The page linked above contains a link to a portion of the aborted debate where Shuler offers meaningless political blather on air, and then Taylor — live and on the phone, though not in the studio — tries to make it seem like he, Taylor, wasn’t debating in person as agreed because Shuler wasn’t able to meet at a certain time. Please. Taylor also seems to say he is willing to debate by phone (a setup I suppose Taylor might well have used to unfair advantage)… Shuler walks out.
Now, I’m a busy person too. I really am. But if I make an appointment of major importance to my job and my community, I can damn well show up for it.
I’m voting for Shuler. I don’t agree with those who want to show their disgust for Shuler by not not voting in the congressional race at all, which to me seems more lazy than anything else. Shuler’s stance on abortion does not appeal to me, but he’s far more concerned about the environment than Taylor, not so hopelessly corrupt, and certainly no more opposed to abortion than Taylor is. A Shuler win is better for WNC than a Taylor win, period. So in my opinion it remains for me to do my civic duty, no matter how repellent I find some of Shuler’s views.
My compromise is that not only will I vote for him, I’ll also send a letter to the North Carolina Democratic party informing it exactly what I think about getting an anti-abortion, anti-gay candidate like Shuler as my only option against an (anti-abortion, anti-gay) anti-environment, politically corrupt multimillionaire.
To all you on-the-fence-about-Shuler liberals out there, I say this. IMO withholding your vote for the Democratic candidate is just as good as giving your vote to Taylor and all that he stands for and all the bad works he’ll continue while in office. Turning away in disgust is not the same as apathy, but there are more issues involved here than the issues of abortion and gay marriage, where Shuler is no better but no worse than Taylor. How do the candidates compare on those other issues?