The Debates are Producing More Smoke Than Fire
I assume part of the purpose for the debates by the presidential and vice-presidential candidates is to give voters clarity as to the positions of the candidates. This is a worthy idea. Unfortunately for me, all it is doing is making me dread Nov. 2.
After seeing and hearing the candidates discuss what they believe, all I can say is, I’m having a hard time believing anyone.
As a person trying to be a good citizen, I feel it is my obligation to vote. And I will. But I can’t begin to tell you the nauseous feeling I get when I think of casting my vote for either the Bush/Cheney or Kerry/Edwards ticket. And it galls me that while I can go to the store and choose from 125 kinds of salad dressings, when I go to cast my ballot for a decision decidedly more important than ranch or blue cheese I am forced to select from only two parties. Instead of feeling like I am supporting the system, I feel as though I’m being held a prisoner to it.
How in the world can a voter be expected to choose a president in an election where “the truth” is only a manipulation used to further an agenda? The candidates accuse each another of lying. They throw numbers and supposed “facts” around that none of us can believe.
Now, a fact seems to be anything anyone believes to be true, a conclusion that has been brought into being by manipulating evidence, a piece of information that often is taken out of context and thrown around with an air of moral supremacy and indignation, only to be countered by a retaliatory “fact” that has been has been thrown together to trump the opponent’s fact.
The debate is mud wrestling without the entertainment value of having real mud. And I am up to my armpits in muck, trying to wade through the half-truths, spin and crocheted facts.
Who do I vote for when I believe that Iraq has been mishandled by the current administration? How do I get rid of the nagging thought that there was a personal agenda this administration had when it abruptly turned from Afghanistan to Iraq? Is what I feel more truthful than what I’m being told? How do I vote for a candidate who I believe doesn’t really have a total understanding of the way the world operates these days? And who has, no matter what he has said in the debates, changed his stance on the war more times than Joan Rivers has changed faces — yet won’t admit it?
Who do I vote for when I believe that after 9-11 a golden opportunity was cast aside by the incumbent to bring this country together by having us work together to become energy self-sufficient, to actually do some soul-searching as to who we are as a country and as individuals, to make sure that we are building a better America?
Yet how do I vote for a candidate who says he will be tough on terrorists, when he valued his job on the Senate Intelligence Committee so little that he missed 76 percent of the meetings during his time on the committee from 1993-2000? How do I believe a man who has belittled the leader of Iraq so badly?
How do I choose between two candidates, neither of whom I believe understands my belief that the educational system in this country needs to be revamped and the success of our children’s education begins with parent accountability? One candidate says that our education system is better and one says it is worse?
How am I supposed to figure out who to vote for when it comes to jobs and the economy when the candidates don’t compare apples with apples? One candidate says that our economy is a mess. The other says it is rosy, robust and growing. How is a voter supposed to know who is telling the truth?
Perhaps why I’m having such a difficult time is that for the first time in my voting life, we’re living in what author Ralph Keyes calls a “post-truth era,” where, unfortunately, fact and fiction, truth and lies and spin are designed to capture us in a web.
Growing up we had a saying, “Liar, liar pants on fire.”
So I guess, as a voter, I guess I’ll end up casting my vote for the candidate whose pants don’t go up in flames.