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Changing attitudes

Brig. Gen. John Douglass and Rep. Robert Hurt will be in Warrenton for a debate on Monday night, and sponsors the Greater Warrenton Chamber of Commerce and the Fauquier County Chamber of Commerce will have folks there, wandering the aisles and collecting questions for the small panel of journalists to ask the two candidates.

If you want to get a jump on that, send your suggested queries by email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

For our part, we'd like to know where the two candidates, who are vying to represent the new 5th District, of which almost all of Fauquier is now a part, stand on a number of issues, prominent among them what to do about sequestration and other aspects of the looming “fiscal cliff.”

In all likelihood, the current Congress will pass some kind of extension of the Jan. 1 deadline for massive budget cuts and tax hikes to kick in, sending the issue to the new Congress which will be sworn in later that month.

We'd also like to know what the two candidates, Douglass a Democrat and Hurt a Republican, think about Social Security and Medicare, about taxes and deficits, about spending for infrastructure and education and the environment, about a whole host of issues of interest to Fauquier voters.

More than anything, we have settled on one question which, we believe, tells more about a candidates real governing philosophy than, perhaps, any other: The American people are sick and tired of gridlock in the legislative branch of the federal government.

That being the case, how do you plan to work across the aisle? Are you prepared to break from your party's line to try and reach compromise on any of the major issues facing us, and on what issues might you be willing to deal?

Too many in Congress believe that compromise means winning, that compromise means that the other side comes over to your view, lock, stock and barrel. That's why there has been so little of it in the last few years. And that's why, unless philosophies change, there isn't going to be much in the next few years, either.

Would Douglass, for instance, be prepared to move closer to a Republican take on Bush-era tax cuts the rich? Would he be prepared to raise the age of eligibility for Social Security? Is he prepared to scuttle Big Bird?

Would Mr. Hurt entertain any notions of ending the Bush-era tax cuts for the very wealthy? Is there any chance he could back away from his party's view that regulations, per se, are bad? Is there any chance that Mr. Hurt, who was once considered sympathetic to the environment, would become more serious about its protection?

Would Douglass join Republicans in an effort to expand U.S. energy production by, say, voting to lift the ban on offshore drilling on Virginia's coast or encourage production in the southwestern Virginia coal fields?
What are either gentleman's plans for moving the U.S. toward full energy independence by tapping the nation's existing and abundant energy resources?

Is there any hope that either of these gentlemen will be able to fill the shoes of Rep. Frank Wolf, who has represented much of Fauquier County for many years, during most of which he argued for more carefully considered policies for both taxing and spending, who championed a more thoughtful foreign policy and use of American force.

If these two gentlemen aren't prepared to occasionally shed party straitjackets in order to serve the people of Virginia, does it really matter who we elect, given that the Senate will probably remain in Democratic hands, the House in Republican?

Monday's debate is at Warrenton Middle School, and runs from 7 to 8:30 p.m. It is one of only two debates to which the candidates have agreed.

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