In a world where nothing is at all as it seems, it is no wonder that the discussions of the presidential and vice-presidential debates went the way that they did. Not in so much as who won or who lost, or which political party gathered the most momentum from the debates, but more so what country were they actually talking about?
Were they talking about that country that the democrats claim that we live in or were they talking about the country that the republicans claim that we live in? Were they talking about a country whose future is just about to turn the corner to “oh happy days,” or were they talking about a country whose darkest days are still ahead of us? Were they talking about a country where the unemployment rate is as low as it has been in years or were they talking about a country that has more people out of work than ever before?
Were they talking about a country whose foreign policy tactics are based on one miscue after another which has caused our nation’s posture and world standing to be in a nose dive or were they talking about a country who is walking in goosestep with our many allies yet hold a firm fist toward those who are our enemies? Are they talking about a country who is prepared to walk out of Afghanistan and Iraq based on a “job complete” mentality or are they talking about a country who knows that when the last pair of American boots break contact with the soil of those two areas, the proverbial you know what will hit the fan; and all that has been accomplished will be lost in short order?
Are they talking about a country where the population is firmly behind one candidate or the other or are they talking about a country where its people are forced to side with one candidate or the other based on no other options? Are we talking about a country that thinks that it is not the government’s role to legislate morals or are we talking about a country that thinks that those moral decisions should be mandated and that the enforcement of moral decisions should come before anything else? Even if it means that the overall political platform might be victorious with some give and take.
Are we talking about a country that thinks that our borders should be open to all with open arms or are we talking about a country where those same open arms should be repositioned in a manner that serves as a backstop to reinforce and support those fences to keep others out? Are we talking about a country who ranks in an embarrassing position as to the educational level of our children when compared worldwide or are we talking about a country who thinks that the unionized contract of “low or no” performing teachers is the more important point in our educational policies.
Are we talking about a country who uses the term swing state because those states are the catalyst of pushing the vote one way or the other or are we talking about a country who uses the term swing state to designate which states will be bombarded with millions of dollars of negative campaign ads, political smearing, and a message that has little to do with how decisions should and could be made in an informed and truthful, factual manner?
Are we talking about a country whose political system is near the brink of being incompetent based on political divide or are we talking about a country that continues to finger point rather than pinpoint resolutions to narrow that divide? Are we talking about a presidential and vice presidential debate that truly was an avenue of driving their points home in a straight forward, honest and factual basis or are we talking about a debate that was made up of mistruths, jaded statistics, interruptions, awkward laughter, rudeness, and about everything else that you can imagine that may be common in some places but most certainty not in a debate? And will we ever again have a debate where the moderator makes no difference as to which side actually wins and is not the highpoint of the evening…. as some have reported as of late?
Will we ever have any chance of seeing two candidates square off in a debate that leaves us at the end of the day with that ammunition needed to make an educated and well informed decision as to who we think should lead our country? Will we ever have a debate where the winner is based on what the candidates actually say and not what the pundits say that they said?
Is this the country that recognizes what national debt really means; we are spending more money than we produce. Or is this the country that changes the definition of debt to make it less critical and more accepting of a position that should never be accepted and is deserving of nothing but criticism?
And more than anything else, is this the country that will ever have a national debate, that really matters, about one of the most important decisions that we have the great freedom and right of making; when so many throughout the world do not even have the option? Or is this the country where anyone really cares anymore?
That, my friends, is the most debatable point of all!
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The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Stan L. Hall is the former (retired) director of the Victim Witness Program for the Gwinnett County District Attorney’s Office.