Yes, I did it last night. I watched the U.S. Presidential debate. I told myself that if I became too irate I could simply turn it off. In the end though, I came away feeling disappointed. Disappointed and sad.
In listening to President Obama and Governor Romney, I had a strange sense of déjà vu, transported back twenty-six years to my 7th grade History class on the day my teacher explained how elections functioned in the Soviet Union of the 1980s. “Sure,” she said, “the voter has a choice. You can vote for the Communist Party or you can vote for the Communist Party.”
Have we truly come to a place where our democracy is as vibrant and alive with choice and possibility as Soviet Russia? I’m worried.
As the debate rolled out, I couldn’t help thinking that any judge in their right mind would have struck 95% of the candidates’ responses from the record as hearsay. It was a debate, as Brian Williams described in post-commentary, of “withering facts.” What I really need in making my presidential decision this election is a spec sheet comparison for these two brands of the same political device.
Neither candidate offered me anything new. No wisdom was shared. No one made a brave foray down Frost’s road less traveled by.
For example, when discussing the National Debt, a situation that compromises our nation’s security perhaps greater than any other threat, neither candidate offered a solution outside of the holy trinity: raise taxes, cut the budget, or grow the economy. What about exploring the link between domestic materials consumption and our economy? Or if that’s too obtuse, I’d have settled for one of the candidates saying very clearly: “You can’t spend more than you take in and we’ve been doing so for decades. It’s time to stop dicking around.”
When the discussion turned to Obamacare, I was similarly left hanging. The candidates bickered over the fine details, but neither offered any clarity of vision. I can’t help but feeling that as a nation we’re arguing about health insurance when what we really want is national health care. Insurance ain’t healthcare. It can try to stretch there, but no matter what we do, insurance will never be more than “the transfer of risk.” So there’s no way we can ever use insurance to solve a health care problem. Am I the only one who wants her President to articulate this so we can move forward?
I did have one moment of hope when Jim Lehrer asked each candidate to share their thoughts on the role of the United States government. Adda boy, Jim, give them the magical question that cuts through all bullshit: “What’s your intention?”
We can’t fathom when we elect a President the myriad decisions they will have to make while in office. So knowing their intention is key in having some confidence that we’re choosing a President who will represent us. Because for me, intention is where everything starts, and it’s the lighthouse beacon you return to when you get lost in the choppy and foggy seas of American government bureaucracy.
In the end, then, here’s what it comes down to so far.
Barack Obama believes that the role of the government is to keep the American people safe; and to open up opportunities and frameworks in which the American people can succeed.
Mitt Romney believes that the role of the government is to promote and protect the United States Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.
Okay, there’s some clarity of choice there. Yet, to my ears, there was still a calculated political spin to each answer. Is this what they each truly believe? Or did Obama cite “keeping the American people safe” to cater to America’s fear contingent? Did Romney steal his line from Ron Paul because he desperately needs the libertarian vote?
And so the American political circus plays on. Jerry Garcia was right. Choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil. Am I the only one who’s aching for some new voices on that debate stage?
© Jennifer S. and harvestliberty.net, 2012.