Since I didn’t get to sound off on these issues on the radio, maybe I’ll just give vent here.
I watched all four of the so-called debates. Mostly they were pretty boring. I thought the last one was the most interesting, but all in all they were disappointing.
The debates frustrate me. Once upon a time they were run by a non-partisan group, the League of Women Voters. But for the last twenty-odd years they’ve been put on (and we’ve all been put on) by a bipartisan commission. The debates are controlled by the two major parties — two of the most powerful political entities in the world — and as one might expect, they are constructed to serve the interests of those parties.
And, face it, those parties are old and entrenched. Yet they’re both trying to sell a message of change. The mind boggles. But I digress.
What frustrates me in the debates is what frustrates me in our national political dialog: The scope is too narrow. The dialog is so tightly circumscribed that we have come to examine and contrast minute differences of policy between Democrats and Republicans, magnifying these differences so greatly that it’s easy to forget that there is a much wider range of possibilities.
To some extent this magnification is justified. The Presidency of the United States is perhaps the most powerful office in the world. I acknowledge that even the smallest differences can have huge effects on all of us.
But surely we are impoverished by not allowing a broader range of political dialog.
A friend sent me a link to this website, which offers a fascinating linguistic analysis of the debates, plus the best use of Wordle I’ve seen yet.
Now for some minutiae. Here are some random observations I posted up on Twitter during the last debate, in reverse chronological order:
so if you serve in the military you shouldn’t have to take “all these tests” other teachers do? McCain is off the map 9:22 PM Oct 15th from mobile web
McCain’s talking about civil rights – freedom is on the march! he even mentions New Orleans 9:20 PM Oct 15th from mobile web
Columbia is our largest agricultural importer. does that include coca products? 8:52 PM Oct 15th from web
what if Obama expressed admiration for Palin’s good looks? wouldn’t that be a hoot? or if McCain said he had the hots for Biden? oh yeah 8:45 PM Oct 15th from web
McCain accuses ACORN of “maybe destroying the fabric of democracy” — are you kidding me? wow 8:36 PM Oct 15th from web
so somebody spent *more* on a campaign before Watergate? who dat? 8:29 PM Oct 15th from web
you’re gonna make me get my pen out. don’t make me get my pen out, biiiatch. 8:26 PM Oct 15th from web
Xy agrees, Obama’s support for pay-for-performance does not help him with teachers. pay-for-performance doesn’t motivate her. 8:24 PM Oct 15th from web
why isn’t McCain wearing a flag pin? Did Obama steal McCain’s flag pin as part of his class warfare? 8:20 PM Oct 15th from web
McCain is accusing Obama of “class warfare.” hahahaha. oh that’s rich, no pun intended. 8:14 PM Oct 15th from web