Disservice to democracy

There is little doubt the presidential debates are a hit with America. They are widely watched, entertaining and revelatory. More important, they serve as a cornerstone of our democracy and are as old as the country itself. Putting the candidates live on stage, where they can’t speak in 30-second sound bites, is a tremendous service to the electorate. Our hats are off to both candidates for taking part in this time-honored political process.

Which brings us to the local political scene: The League of Women Voters has scheduled a series of candidate forums, including one on Oct. 14 covering the District 3 and District 4 Assembly races. Although we are writing this editorial two days before the event, we are confident the incumbents, Rick Keene, R-Chico, and Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale, will be no-shows. How do we know? Keene’s already told us he had prior engagements in Truckee and with Rep. John Doolittle. LaMalfa’s office told the league he was not coming.

Why should they? They are both in safe districts and almost sure to get re-elected, so why bother? The problem is that they are shortchanging the people they represent—all of them. Keene and LaMalfa owe it to their opponents to engage them in a live forum. It’s part of the democratic process, even if you’re a Republican.