Tuesday, October 4, 2016
To me, a "debate" is a verbal joust in which two or more participants agree that something is important to each. But further, it is an encounter in which each agrees that there is something greater than their own personal persuasions in the balance. "A college education" or a "war that wounds and kills American soldiers" may rouse up all sorts of beliefs, but the greater tableau is the good of a nation. And within this framework, the linkage between the size of an individual's hands and the prowess of his or her genitalia is frivolous and irrelevant. Empirical evidence is brought to bear in a debate that might rightly be called a debate.
And in this regard, the presidential 'debates' tend to fall flat. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump may snip and snap, but where does this leave the nation they both claim to wish to lead? Does it really improve my circumstances if a man wishes to marry a man or a bathroom is "trans-gender?" If a candidate calls himself a "success," does that make him a success? And how well does anyone's "character" fair when pitted against a Congress that can't agree on the directions to the nearest lavatory?
It all feels a bit like the public television show "This Old House" in which repairs are made to some wonderful old house with a set of tools that the average homeowner couldn't pay for in two lifetimes. Everyone's white and rich and they all seem to live on Nantucket. But that doesn't do much for the man and wife hoping to upgrade the bathroom with a little sweat equity.
I'd love to know who will pay for the presidential candidates' dreams, but given the format of latter-day debates, I'm having a hard time finding out what those dreams are outside of disparaging an opponent's age or boobs. Am I wrong in thinking that once the issue of "principles" had some impact on a presidential race?