I flipped on the debates earlier this evening To see what I was missing. Jaded though I may be when it comes to institutional politics, I nonetheless dread intellectual calcification quite a bit more; I’m always willing to give anyone, or anything, a second look. Being close-minded and unwilling to be convinced of anything is, of course, a sure route to intellectual death.
I can say without hesitation that I just watched possibly the most frustrating, unproductive debate between two candidates that I’ve ever seen. To wit, I just watched two candidates debate over not whether military spending should be cut, but by how much it should be increased. I also watched two candidates state unequivocally that if Israel is attacked, American sons and daughters will almost certainly be dragged into the conflict, rendered bloody and broken to protect a country whose current leaders have not only said publicly that they don’t need our help to protect their borders, but who have disregarded the U.S. government’s pleas for compromise and moderation at nearly every turn; while also doing their best to drag the U.S. kicking and screaming into a completely avoidable military conflict—one which a former head of Mossad has noted would essentially lead to a war that will engulf the entire region. And of course, nobody seems concerned about the Iranian people, who are suffering under the cruel regime of economic sanctions which both candidates have excitedly approved.
Ironically, that same country (I refer here to Israel and not Iran) has managed to reduce its own military spending by five percent in recent years, despite being in a much more precarious security position than the United States, geographically speaking.
I suppose the good news is that Romney appears to have lost the debate. The bad news, unfortunately, is that Obama appears to have won. Meanwhile, the other candidates available to voters are busy filing lawsuits trying to get into the debates, or getting arrested for trying to enter. Of course, the American people might have more exposure to these candidates if the two major parties had not essentially rigged the presidential debate system in their favor.
I’m not suggesting that there are no actual differences between the policy platforms of Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. I’m also not suggesting that those differences won’t have consequences depending on who is elected. But what I am suggesting is that there is a critical mass of policy issues in this country that both parties have either chosen to ignore, or, institutionally speaking, are in fundamental agreement on. The War on Drugs is one of them. Mass Incarceration is another. A refusal to cut military spending is third. ”World Police” style foreign policy is a fourth. The list goes on.
And so I stand by my original statement on the first presidential debate. None of the substantive foreign policy issues I mentioned were discussed with any substance or candor. We watched two candidates agree with each other 90% of the time, while pointing out small details in the other candidate’s plan where they disagree. This isn’t real democracy. It’s a shell game.
After reading up on/watching clips of last night’s debate, I have concluded that this is the best response by far and everyone should all the whole thing.