The weather was perfect and the setting was spectacular at the Lake Burton venue when CHARGE (Citizens Helping America Restore Government Ethics) held its first Senate candidates’ forum. The three Georgia senatorial candidates who attended- Paul Broun, Karen Handel and Jack Kingston– each answered a series of questions and in so doing, presented their qualifications and explained the reasons they were running for US Senate.
Most of the commentary was fairly predictable and all three candidates emphasized their beliefs that excessive government spending and bureaucracy must be reigned in. All agreed that a $17 trillion national debt is as much a security problem as it is a fiscal one.
Reflecting on the forum, the singular commentary that still resonates was the one made by Jack Kingston in answer to the question, “Which three people would you invite to spend a discussion weekend at (a well-known person’s, whose name I’ve forgotten) lake house?” One of the people Kingston would have invited is a woman he casually met who thought he was the local weather forecaster. When Kingston explained that he wasn’t a weather man, but a U.S. Representative, the woman told her of her dismay resulting from an inquiry with a government agency.
A variety of circumstances, one of which (if I remember correctly) involved her husband being unable to work, had the woman working two jobs. She was looking for some type of financial help and representatives of the agency she had approached told her she was earning too much to receive assistance. Their advice was to cut back on her earnings or eliminate them altogether, and go on the government dole– a “solution” the woman found unacceptable and disheartening.
Kingston’s commentary stood out because it was unique, poignant and unexpectedly insightful. Rather than a mentor or historical figure, Kingston wanted his third guest to be an everyday person whose first hand experience with a federal agency was emblematic of the illusory credo, “We’re from the government and we’re here to help”.
This isn’t to imply that the other candidates don’t understand the importance of recognizing, understanding and addressing the plight of lower and middle income workers. Yet Kingston was the only one to acknowledge that importance and place it front and center. That says a lot more about a person than a speech, or a recitation of accomplishments, can convey.