March 4

I must warn you: this is rather political. But I wish to make it clear from the outset that I’m not a registered member of any political party. I listen to both sides and vote for whomever I believe will do the best job, no matter what color their banner.

That this is an election year here in the U.S. could not have escaped anyone’s notice. Sadly, it is proving to be a rather disgusting exhibition as candidates for the top political office in the nation almost literally battle it out before our very eyes. The debate platforms, traditionally a means for candidates in a political party to express their ideas so voters can get to know them prior to a primary ballot leading to a party’s nomination have become media circuses where each candidate tries to one-up the others and all of them behave like armed gladiators in a fight to the death. I can already feel your eyes rolling.

In one such debate, five men stood on stage February 25: Marco Rubio, Donald Trump, and Ted Cruz were showcased in the center, flanked by Ben Carson and John Kasich, the decorative bookends who hoped a space might clear long enough for them to do more than simply stand there. There ensued a lot of verbal pushing, shoving, jabbing, poking, and pointing, accompanied by hurled insults and cries of “liar.” If you were not part of the fracas, you might as well not be there at all. This was made most clear when, after one heated exchange between the big three, each trying to out shout, out jab, and out finger-point the other, there was a sudden intense moment of quiet during which we heard a hopeful Ben Carson ask, “Can someone please attack me?”

It’s no wonder that our country is in trouble. Even those who supposedly belong to the same political party can’t agree or get along. Each fills his time with beefed up descriptions of how wonderfully he did something, promises emptier than the used sack from our recent fast food lunch, and more insults. Rarely do the debaters present ideas: they spend their energies putting down other candidates from their own party, arguing, and slinging accusations (and occasionally, a few other items). They rarely provide direct answers but evade questions to present useless drivel of their own choosing. To quote one boast from a prior debate, “I’m gonna win by a lot.” How is this useful?

If people from the same political party can’t get along, how can we expect one of them to bring us all together and make allies for our country?  The election process shouldn’t be about which individual can claim the biggest bragging rights: it needs to be about who cares enough to do something positive to help raise our country’s values, unearth its honor, rekindle our pride in it, and bring us together to work toward effecting positive change.  We need a candidate with gumption and integrity.  This preface to nominating a candidate to run for the highest office in our land should not be about arrogance or winning a verbal shouting match, but rather about which candidate can bring a unity of purpose to the people and help make this country the best that it can be for all of its citizens.  This is a time for unity, not one for polarization.

Our political candidates too often give lip service to values and morals but personally display none. And none of us wants to be responsible for electing any of these selfish, self-centered candidates, one of whom may well become our country’s new leader no matter what we do. We hold an election, people run for office, and someone wins. But does everyone have to lose in the process?

Could debates actually be the primary cause of voter apathy?

 

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