In an unusual local election year, things have turned odder still with the refusal of the East Hampton Town Republican candidates to take part in debates, thereby ruling themselves out of any serious consideration by voters this year. Everyone else seeking top town offices showed up, albeit online, to present their ideas and point out what they believed were the flaws in the plans of others. Sounds like a debate to us, but not so Ken Walles, running for town supervisor, who declared that a Zoom debate was not a debate at all. If ever we heard a bigger cop-out from a candidate, we can’t recall it.
If Mr. Walles and his running mates for town board, Joe Karpinski and George Aman, really wish to be a part of government, they have a responsibility to play by the current conditions of life during this lingering pandemic. Certainly if any among them win office they would be asked to take part in meetings via phone and, yes, Zoom or some other tech; do we suppose that they would refuse to do that too just to be consistent?
But consistency is not a hallmark of today’s Republican Party, which cries, “Liberty!” but then wants to limit women’s reproductive freedom. This is a party that complains that it is not being heard but is one that seeks to suppress the voices of Black and Latino voters with a blizzard of repressive state-level laws. And this is a party that tried from top to bottom to overturn the result of a national election with false claims, bogus audits, and a fatal attack on Congress.
Republicans may be at a statistical disadvantage in East Hampton, down but not out, if they could buck the national trend. A healthy system of government requires reasoned participation from all sides. It is a sign of how far the party has drifted into dominance by a lunatic fringe that even locally it cannot field reasonable candidates. Where once the party was a home for those with conservative ideas and values, now it welcomes those who favor tyranny over democracy and platitudes over actual participation and power for the sake of power, never mind the issues.