|This is an interesting screenshot from ESPN's Monday Night Football coverage last night that I feel is pertinent to this article.|
Now a major Presidential Election is important and I would it expect it to be a dominant story no matter what else is going on in the world (except maybe a World War or perhaps a severe geological disaster!). I try not to discuss politics on this blog, mainly because that is not the purpose of a blog that focuses on Arts and Entertainment. However, I cannot ignore something that has been an integral part of the culture. And so I have to speak. There was once a time in our country when the Presidential debates mattered. Television was a fairly new thing when most people felt that the televised Presidential debate of 1960 between then-Senator John F. Kennedy and then-Vice President Richard M. Nixon basically swung voters from one side to the other (and we know how close that Election was!). And we all learned in our Elementary School history classes about the legend that was the Lincoln-Douglas debates. But over these weeks, I've discovered something. I believe our current climate and 24/7 media has rendered a Presidential (or even Vice Presidential debate) useless. You see, after talking to some people and reading the numerous tweets and status updates following each debate (and there were A LOT!), I realized that nothing said in the debates changed anyone's mind. I mean, the ones who were extremely liberal were still going to vote to give President Barack Obama a second term. And the ones who were not as pleased with the last four years, were still going to vote for former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. Most of my "undecided" friends and acquaintances still consider themselves in that category and some are even going as far as to write-in other candidates (because they are disillusioned by the entire 2-party system, which is a discussion for another time!). With two weeks left until Election Day, both candidates seem to be in a sort of "Dead Heat" with no signs of it going one way or the other at this moment (which is certainly frustrating to all the news outlets out there from FOX News to MSNBC!). It seems that both sides (Democrats or Republicans, Liberals or Conservatives, etc.) dug their heels in even more and just slung a little more mud (calling each other "liars" or "ineffectual").
So I have to ask: what good did the debates do if most of the voters (who already knew most of their preferred candidate's proposed policies well before October) didn't really open themselves up to the other side's point of view? Or even more constructively, open up to a possible compromise? My aunt went as far as to compare the vitriol out there to the rabidness sports fans have when supporting their favorite team. And I couldn't help but laugh at the irony that (through the wonder that is the scheduling of October 2012!) the MLB Playoffs were occurring at the same time as both political parties were spewing their venom as the candidates made their respective cases. As I said, I don't really like to get political and it was one of the major reasons I did not post these last few weeks. But I could not ignore such an important moment in the culture without stating something I feel we all need to think about. Are we in a cultural vacuum when it comes to politics? Has the competitiveness we often see in Sports (and sometimes Oscar season!) made its way into how we choose our Government? Or are we in such a hole (economically, militarily, environmentally, etc.) that the patience we so desperately need is not enough to subside the anger that is out there (on both sides of the aisle!)? These are just questions to think about, I am not advocating one over the other. Just bear these in mind when you fill out your ballot on Election Day.