I don't care whose ass gets kicked. I don't care who "looks presidential." I don't care whose American flag lapel pin is straight or crooked. I don't care whose writers come up with the better zingers. I don't care who looks down at the podium, whose teeth are whiter, who interrupts too much, who "lies," who looks bored, who looks vigorous or enervated. I don't care who has memorized the better answers to the questions. I don't care whose necktie is more aggressive, whose suit has finer pinstripes.
As far as I'm concerned the presidential (and vice-presidential) debates are a waste of time--for the candidates and definitely for us. Staged debates are about as relevant to picking a president as, oh, a foot race would be. A game of ping-pong. A coin toss. A beauty pageant.
Here's what matters to me--and, I would hope, to most other people too: What are the candidates' policies? And what do their parties stand for? What are the parties' histories on the issues that matter the most to me? What do their parties want to do? Where do these parties want the country to go?
And so if President Obama rallies and stomps some Romney butt in Debate #2, I don't care. If Romney rolls over the president again, I don't care. It's right next to meaningless in my dictionary.
But here are a few of the questions that are meaningful to me: Which party--in my lifetime alone--has introduced and/or supported ...
- civil rights--for minorities, women, gays and lesbians?
- voting rights for all eligible Americans?
- Medicare and Medicaid and, yes, Obamacare?
- labor unions and workers' rights and improving workplace conditions?
- fair and equitable hiring practices?
- financial aid to college students?
- financial support for public schools?
- financial support for higher education?
- Head Start and other preschool programs for the disadvantaged?
- the "social safety net"--including unemployment insurance, ADC, and food stamps for the hungry?
- the Peace Corps and other social service organizations?
- space exploration, science, technology, alternative energy sources?
- financial support for public libraries?
- financial support for artists and others in the humanities?
- financial support for public radio and television?
And, conversely, which party has consistently fought against all/most of these?
The Democrats are far from perfect--we can lay Vietnam at their doorstep, and they have disappointed and depressed me at times (think: Monica Lewinsky and other failures involving greed and groin)--but I agree with Democrats most of the time because, most of the time, they seem to be interested in creating a country and a culture that I want to live in--a country which does not operate on the principles of social Darwinism but on humanitarian, philanthropic ones. The principles I tried to apply throughout my forty-five-year teaching career. (Social Darwinism in the classroom--there are not too many greater abominations.)
I want to live in a country where we help one another, where the government (we, the people) endeavors to make this a place where all of us can succeed to the level of our capabilities, where we do not favor those who were born ninety-five yards down the 100-yard track and attribute all to their own virtue and work ethic.
So ... when the final two debates occur, I probably won't even watch. All they do is raise my blood pressure. They plain don't matter. And, to quote Rhett Butler: "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn."