Tonight is the second presidential debate between Barack Obama and John McCain. I’m not sure if I want to watch. Having watched the first presidential debate and the only vice presidential debate I came away with the conclusion that debates are broken.
- “Facts” are tossed around by both candidates and then challenged and defended with no regard for what’s factual. Even when multiple sites and news organizations fact check the candidates, those misleading, deceptive or blatantly false claims still come up. Both Joe Biden and Sarah Palin used “facts” in the VP debate that had already been fact-checked and swatted down after the presidential debate.
- The follow-up questions are limited so there’s no actual resolution for any issue. A candidate can make an outrageous claim and it just sits there unchallenged. This happened multiple times in both debates.
- Finally, the underlying issues that inform policies are never actually debated. For example, we go round and round on who’s tax policy does what (here’s a good breakdown of their respective tax policies), but we never get to the issues behind the opposing policies: What will improve the economy more, giving more money to the middle class or more money to the wealthy? That’s the real debate, with real historical examples (Reagan vs. Clinton), but we never actually get there.
Continue reading The Presidential Debates are Broken
This has been an interesting couple weeks of politics, getting sick of politics and not listening to myself about politics. I’ve been twittering and spouting off about politics because it riles me up. Because I disagree. Because I hear things that strike me as wrong and I want to respond. And what I failed to realize is that so often we just disagree (like I said before and then ignored) and pouncing on each other doesn’t help. I’m sorry.
I think politics would be a lot more friendly if we could cut out the rhetoric and just focus on an issue. If we could see where and how we disagree and just be fine with disagreeing. It’s easier to find a path forward if you understand where the other person is coming from. Too often in politics (myself definitely included), we don’t take the time to do that. Instead we jump to the conclusion that you must be stupid. That’s probably why I don’t usually talk much about politics (I tend to disagree with the standard Christian/Republican stance) and why in the past two weeks of talking more about politics I’ve annoyed some people and riled up others. Not that frustrating or riling is bad, but I’m not sure what I’m accomplishing.
Take the Test
So let’s accomplish something. My sister-in-law took one of those online quizzes that tell you where you’re at politically. These things are always goofy because on some questions I hem and haw and then wonder if I had answered differently if it would have changed the outcome (I checked, it didn’t change much). But at any rate, I think it can be helpful to see where we stand.
So give it a try. It’s about 40 questions and takes less than five minutes.
Continue reading Here’s Where I Stand: Let’s Disagree Well
As an addendum of sorts to my recent rant on the ineffectualness of politics, I offer this thought: Why can’t people just disagree? I’ve talked before about how hard it is to argue, and I think the current political climate only reinforces that.
The problem is that very few people can just disagree. We take disagreement to the next level by seeing the worst in people, flinging accusations and insults, and starting to distort the truth ourselves. You can see it in politics when someone points out the gaffes of one candidate, ignoring all context, explanation, apology or understanding, and then shrugs at the gaffes of their own candidate.
Continue reading Why Can’t We Just Disagree?
Shaun Groves has a great blog post about getting along with your neighbors, though it can really apply to getting along with anyone. Sometimes it’s too easy for relationships to go sour and it’s so hard to make things right. We’ve all got our pride to protect and we easily forget that getting along with someone means making compromises and sacrifices. It happens on all sides and when you least expect it.
But as Shaun points out, we all have masks, and behind those masks are real people with real problems and real hurts. It doesn’t make everything OK, but a little understanding goes a long way.