In the wake of the first of three presidential debates, I decided to throw out a little bit of commentary. I have really enjoyed the voter interview series I started here in August and I will still be answering my own interview questions on election day as promised. But after watching the debate from last night and the subsequent social media conversations, I decided to share a few thoughts.
Our country is split almost down the middle on support for each candidate. You see it in the polls. You see it on the internet. You even see it in my very small sample in this blog. Despite what either campaign would like the general public to believe, voters on both sides of the aisle are actually intelligent, well-intentioned (for the most part), hard-working Americans. It’s tempting to devolve into good cop/bad cop stereotypes during election season because it’s easy. I like the good guy. You like the bad guy. It’s Batman and Joker politics. But it’s not that simple. It just isn’t. We have to coexist beyond election day so I am going to try and share my views respectfully. I hope you will do the same.
Conservatives need the Mitt Romney who showed up last night
The Mitt Romney we saw last night showed America that his plans are different than those of President Obama. This matters. He used the phrase “two paths” over and over to display his point. We know this to be true, but I think that is what made his performance particularly powerful last night. He explained his positions without apology and presented himself as a clear alternative to the Obama White House. This was especially important because too many people base their votes on the guy that looks good. Or the guy that is a great speaker. Or the guy who is most like me. What Romney needed to do was remind people that he does indeed have real plans should he get elected.
Whether or not you agree with his politics, is of course, your vote to cast. But Conservatives needed the clarity he presented to remind them of the issues. If you are squarely in the Obama camp, you likely had a very different take and that is ok. I don’t think Romney has any illusions of bringing you across the aisle. But if the goal was trying to woo undecided voters to see his plan as the better choice for our economy, I think he answered a lot of questions last night.
Debates will decide this election: pay attention
Like it or not, debates are incredibly powerful in every election season. The name of the political game from every side seems to be distraction and that really gets us nowhere as a country. What we need are conversations, not talking points. We need to pay attention. We need to make our decisions based on policy and not posture. I love hearing the candidates go head to head during this time because at the end of the day, they are the ones who will sit at that Oval Office desk stacking up our Federal to do list in order of importance. I love the spontaneity of a good debate.
I actually watched last night’s debate this morning while Oscar was in school and Calvin napped. I normally work during that time, but this was a priority for me. If you haven’t yet seen it, I encourage you to watch it online and follow up with the final two Presidential and one Vice Presidential debates. I don’t expect solid Obama or solid Romney voters to switch sides at this point. But there really are undecided voters out there or people who are so discouraged by 2 minute soundbites they hear that they simply will not vote at all. Please don’t give up on the system. Take some time and really learn about each platform and VOTE. It is your privilege and your freedom to speak up for yourself.
Don’t criminalize the opposing party
Look. I am a conservative. But I don’t always agree with my party and I am perfectly comfortable voting against issues that I don’t agree with. That said, on the morning of November 5, 2008, knowing that Barack Obama had been elected as the 44th President of the United States, I was comforted in the fact that his victory was clearly decided by the American people. He was not the candidate I chose. But I support the system of freely elected leaders in this country and I try very hard to understand the people who voted him into office. Many (if not most) of my friends are Obama supporters and they are good people. Vote about the issues. Be passionate about your beliefs. But respect the office of the President and the hard work and determination it takes to get there or even as close as 2nd place.
On a personal note, I am happy to admit that I was energized as a likely Romney voter who wasn’t that thrilled about the fact that he ended up with the Republican nomination prior to the debate. I know people criticize Mitt Romney for a sometimes robotic business approach to politics, but in the case of the first debate, I thought he was completely on point. The election has officially begun. And if the Romney we saw last night sticks around, he is going to give President Obama a run for his money.
Did you watch the Debate? What are your thoughts?
Linked up with Jessica today.