Are debates useful?

One thing that caught my attention in the debates so far, is that the Media is focusing more on how good or bad was the performance of the candidates rather than the substance of what they propose. While performance could be important, I rather focus on substance...the job of whoever wins is not going to be to play the starring role in a new Hollywood movie, but to lead this country for the next four years.

I read comments in the media about how candidates "attack with gloves off" or "did not stand to the punches"...and other sportlike comparisons. From my perspective, it doesn't make sense. My vote is not for sale to the best actos, or the best boxer, or the best football player. My vote will go to the candidate I believe has the most credible program to lead the country domestically as well as in the safeguard of its international interests.

I am also annoyed, as a Jew, by how not only the Media but the candidates themselves, use the US-Israel connection to make points. they use it to try to pry away votes from their opponent as well as bringing water to their own well. I believe that the relationship between Israel and the US trascend party lines, and every President this side of Truman understood it well. I might not always agree with the interpretation of this or that candidate on what the connection means, but I do recognize that every single one of them understand that the connection is important to the American people...not just to Jews.

It bothers me when candidates waste precious air time to twist the other candidate's positions on a variety of issues instead of articulating their own to allow th epublic to understand where they stand. I do know, however, that unfortunately the political game has become exactly that: a game in which the color of your shirt is more important than the content of your program. I believe that MLK would be turning in his grave.

It also puzzles me why candidates seem to believe that harrassing citizens in their homes with automated phone calls or a massive number of emails will give them a better chance. If they would use those vehicles to articulate a position, they would have more of my respect. Nine out of ten communications, however, focuses in attacking then character of their opponent; sometimes with true facts, more often with false or dubious ones. And sometimes, there is a conscious effort to twist reality to make actions by their opponent look bad. The disregard that some of these communications have for decorum or honesty just goes to show how little respect politicians appear to have for the American public.

With what I said so far, some of you kight think I'm disinclined to vote - You could not be more wrong. While this rarified environment of inaccurate communications makes it more difficult to unearth the truth under what is being said, the importance of civic participation is well worth the effort. In this country, the voice of the people counts - unlike in the society where I grew up. Cherishing the uniqueness of American democracy means to accept it flaws an all. After all, it is still "the less bad of the systems".

Democracy is not just elections. Democracy is the active and ongoing participation of the citizens in the Public debate. It so happen that once every four years, that debate includes the vote for the office of President of the United States.

Whoever you support, make sure to understand what they propose as well as what their opponents propose. Do not give away your vote based on whether your jersey is red, blue or whatever color it is. Your vote is a tool to define the future of our society - use it responsibly.



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