Saturday, September 27, 2008

Obama Won the Debate

Okay, so I promised myself that I wasn't going to watch Presidential Debate last night. I was going to kick back with a cold one and watch the UConn-Louisville game. As exciting as the game was (great finish Huskies!), I surfed through the debate and got stuck on it.

I don't particularly like the debates - because, ultimately I don't trust the voters.

People today just aren't that smart and don't look at the issues critically. And this isn't a left-right, Democrat-Republican thing (even though die hards on both sides believe that those who think oppositely are brainwashed idiots). No this is about people as consumers of information.

The average person usually reaches voting age with a slight left-right leaning based on a variety of factors - life experience, parental values (either embracing or rejecting), mentors, teachers, community, readings, tv shows, news media, comedians, celebrities, etc). Once established we tend to gravitate towards news media, friends, and information sources that reinforce that leaning (MSNBC vs Fox, Michael Moore vs Talk Radio, etc). We cease intellectually dissecting issues and challenges and instead parrot back the soundbites that our favorite media outlets have fed us.

Face it. Conservative leaners will not vote for Democrats. Period. Progressive leaners will not vote for Republicans. Period.

Now, the parties are going after the middle ground, the undecideds. I would hope that these people would exercise some critical thinking, but I doubt it. Whichever side shouts the loudest and hits the right "hot button" soundbite will win that person's vote. It's a zero sum game.

So why do I think Obama won the debate? Two reasons. For the most part, I thought it was a stalemate. Obama leads in the polls. McCain needed to make up ground he didn't. Secondly, Obama talked tough on Afghanistan, almost hawkish. While this makes his liberal base absolutely bristle and shudder they still won't abandon him. So he gained a little credibility with some dissatisfied conservatives. McCain had the opportunity to do the same by talking up alternative energy sources, but chose not go there. Game. Set. Match. Obama.

Now, mind you, this is my analysis of what I think happened, not how I necessarily feel about the issues.

Soundbite Politics

I disheartens me that things have come to this. I hate soundbite politics because it makes us all stupid.

Please, don't prove me right.

This election day, there's more on the plate than the Presidency. There are national, state and local legislative seats up for grabs as well. Please take the time to learn about these races - because they are much more important than the Presidency. These are the races that will affect you and your community.

Take the time to carefully read the platforms of candidates for both sides. Educate yourself. Don't vote based on soundbites. If you need those "voter's guides" they hand out to you at the polling place, then you shouldn't be voting at all.

Vote as an informed citizen... or stay the fuck at home.

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