Kentucky politics haven't garnered this much national attention since the Civil War, when President Abraham Lincoln reputedly said, "I hope to have God on my side, but I must have Kentucky."
With the national media fascinated by all things Tea Party, and particularly infatuated with Republican U.S. Senate nominee Rand Paul, we can expect some level of that attention to continue at least through early November.
Since the race between Paul and Attorney General Jack Conway, the Democratic nominee, will play out in a national spotlight, we hope it will be a race that focuses on addressing our national problems.
Kentucky is an ideal spot to have such a race, because Kentucky's problems are a microcosm of the nation's woes.
Unemployment here is even higher than the national average. The state is suffering from the loss of manufacturing jobs. Rural areas are suffering more than cities, and there is a rural-urban divide in politics, culture and education levels.
Kentucky, more than most places, has suffered environmental degradation by the energy industry. But we also fear the economic consequences of moving away from fossil fuels.
Kentucky is highly dependent on the very federal spending Paul decries. We get back $1.82 in federal aid — for everything from agriculture to welfare — for every $1 we pay in federal taxes.
So, this seems a perfect setting for engaging in what seems to be the decision candidates will put to voters nationwide in this election:
Do we want to reduce government as drastically as the Tea Party movement proposes? Or, do we just want better, more fiscally prudent government decisions?
We would enjoy watching and listening to an intellectual debate about which of these two courses the nation should take. We would particularly enjoy seeing it play out in Kentucky with the nation watching.
It would be far more entertaining, not to mention far more enlightening, than the standard exchange of negative attack ads, more often than not spouting half-truths and outright lies.
So, our request of Paul and Conway is that they eschew the negativity and engage in the kind of intellectual debate that would make Lincoln and Stephen Douglas proud.
After all, with the nation watching, both candidates should want to make Kentuckians proud of their conduct — assuming they want Kentuckians to vote for them.