Debate me dizzy

Story by Mike Jacobs, Multimedia Editor

After the final presidential debate on Monday, it’s very hard to talk about political issues without parroting the pundits or confusing the spinners from the experts. This article is not spin; it’s about how dangerously dizzy we’ve become.

While researching places to watch the debate online, I found debatedrinking.com — a drinking game constructed to make the farce of our presidential race more enjoyable. Because the truth is, there was no debate — there hasn’t been one for a long time. Both parties spend so much time memorizing what to say and what not to say that there is practically no listening involved.

An argument is when people use facts and opinions to disagree with each other, and a televised argument with commentary is much more like a boxing match than a debate. Debates are a dance, where two partners discuss an issue from multiple perspectives in order to reach a higher place, one shared by all and only possible because of our willingness to lead and follow in turn.

If the candidates could dance, voters would certainly be more informed. Did you know that there is another debate scheduled at some obscure time and mentioned only in passing for all of the rest of the candidates? Isn’t it obvious that we would all benefit by having a few different voices at the table?

So, if these events aren’t debates, they can only be one thing: entertainment. During the pre-game show, the experts asked the Internet, “Which candidate has the most to lose from tonight’s final presidential debate?” to which one person responded, “The voters.” I think this person, like so many others, has come to realize the best and worst rule of democracy: that our politicians are only as good as we are, and that we get what we put into it.

If the public came together to demand more thoughtful and intelligent debates, we would get them overnight. If we really wanted to know what our nation’s policy in the Middle East should be, we would be able to help each other make some of these complex decisions together.

Before this election season, my goal was to ignore the debates, advertisements, news coverage and social media spotlights, and instead do my best to learn about the issues. Not to find out where I stand on important arguments, but to learn how to engage in important discussions.

I decided I would not let my politicians define the issues for me, but I found out this is very difficult — not only to dodge the meaningless talk, but to research and find conversations about the issues without running into predetermined perspectives and agendas masquerading as zing words.

Certainly we can’t all be expected to know about all of our nation’s issues — or even just one issue entirely — but at the very least, can’t we expect our politicians to show character traits like thoughtfulness, honesty, and genuine interest in telling us how it is? Can’t we dance with each other on an issue, not just chase each other around it?

I believe that the average voter is so much more intelligent than that, and that reality is so much more dynamic than a game of Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots.

Still, it’s hard to find the common ground and mutual respect necessary to debate each other when the pundits and the spin people do such a great job at turning the issues into nonsense.

So, instead of going on about something everybody already knows or feels deeply, I will leave you with some of my favorite quotes provided to you by the idiots at ABC:

* “I don’t expect Twitter to blow up tonight.”

* “There is already mad spinning going on.”

* “I think Romney hit Obama plenty.”

* “Maintain America as the hope of the earth.”

* “We have far more bayonets now then we did in 1913…”

* “Obama articulated, essentially, a more articulate foreign policy.”

* “[The voters] aren’t going to agree while they were watching, but they are going to agree by the time the night is over.”

* “If you already know who you are voting for, why are you even watching these debates?”