By Roslyn Ryan
Call it a sign of the times.
The trend in politics these days — at least in several recent campaigns I’ve been able to observe — is for a candidate to surround himself or herself with a carefully-selected cadre of handlers, advisors and experienced campaign gurus.
There are strategy sessions to attend, meet and greets to host, and Facebook pages to maintain. There is data to analyze and optics to consider. The sophistication is a thing to behold, from the slickly produced campaign materials to the opposition research — all of it reminiscent of (and perhaps gleaning its tenor from) much larger-scale races at the state and national level.
Gone are the unscripted moments that allow voters to see the real person running for office, replaced instead with carefully crafted talking points and appearances in only “friendly” environments.
While this move towards a more modern method of campaigning may offer the candidate that subscribes to it a better chance at finishing in first place, it can prove regrettable in other ways.
The Goochland Republican Committee’s recent choice to pull out of a scheduled Sept. 24 candidates’ forum, reportedly based on the fact that they could not guarantee that their candidate would be treated fairly, was well within their rights to make. Their candidates had already attended one such event, and another opportunity will come this month.
Still, one can’t help but wonder at the idea that a political party’s leadership would not have a greater degree of confidence in their candidates to handle themselves under less-than-ideal circumstances.
In doing this, they appeared to say that the candidates they support to serve the people of Goochland cannot be trusted to think on their feet or respond to criticism, warranted or unwarranted. Campaign signs, websites, brochures and endorsements are wonderful ways to communicate a message, but all pale in comparison to actually delivering the message.
Many residents of Goochland have vociferously expressed their confidence in the candidates currently supported by the GOP.
It’s a shame, then, that the party leadership doesn’t appear ready to offer it as well.