Unpresidential Performances: Debates, WWE or Clownshow? (EP.269)

As the most powerful personThe President of the United States is often referred to as the leader of the Free World.

Introduction

As the most powerful person on the planet, the President of the United States is often referred to as the leader of the Free World. Either Donald Trump will continue in that role, or Joe Biden will step into the role. 

That is the subject of today’s 10-minute episode. 

Continuing

Neither candidate came across as anything like Presidential, much less like the leader of the Free World. I have heard reactions ranging from “Clownshow” to “World Wrestling Entertainment”, including “Embarrassing”, “Kanye was the winner” and “The US lost.” The most telling reaction from several sources was, “After that performance, just don’t vote.”

I agree that America lost, but likely for a different reason that the others with this reaction. The vital discussion of today’s key issues is what we as Americans lost. 

The first and most important issue is how we choose our leaders. The two-party system is no longer producing leaders capable of engaging in stimulating discussions like the Lincoln/Douglas live and only in person debates, or intelligent, easy-to-follow and highly civil faceoffs like the one between Kennedy and Nixon–the first of the televised debates. Unlike today, the first TV debate setting was simple; bare stage, a moderator with a lectern, and the candidates in separate chairs. And a pleasant, enlightening discussion. If we want a return to that modus operandi, that MO, it is up to us as voters to get the job done. The candidates and their parties are playing to us, and playing up to what they think we want. And to a great extent, they are right. If we want better candidates and better office holders, we need to be better voters. And we need a very different voting process–more on that later in this episode.

Let’s lift some representative issues from a recent episode, 2020 Presidential Voting Guide: Biden v Trump (EP.266), to remind us of some of the important issues, and help erase the memory of that first debate.

“If you believe that the Republic form of government laid out in the Constitution is the right choice, vote for Trump.If you believe that we should abandon the Electoral College, a fundamental part of the Republic format, then vote for Biden. In other words, if you want a national popular vote to replace the College, vote for Biden.

If you believe the New York Times Pulitzer Prize winning work on the 1619 project was correct in saying the year 1619 represents the real founding and legacy of America, vote for Biden.If you believe the view that the real founding occurred in 1776, with documents that Jefferson called, “A silver frame (Constitution), around a document of gold.” (Declaration), vote for Trump. 

If you believe that we should have open borders with amnesty for all, vote for Biden.If you believe that America should have secure borders with a wide, but controlled, gate, then vote for Trump.

If you support school choice, vote for Trump.If you believe that increased funding for traditional public schools is the answer to the issues in K-12 education, vote for Biden

If you believe that government should be the resource of first choice, then vote for Biden.If you believe the individual should be the resource of first choice, vote for Trump.

I leave it to you to do your own pick’em on issues that are important to you, e.g., climate change, abortion, Middle East politics and peace, etc. The key is to separate the issues from the personalities. I am not saying that personalities are unimportant; I am encouraging all of us to have a clear understanding of the issues as well as our take on the candidates themselves.

Now let’s get to the needed–desperately needed–different voting process. Instead of the current two-party system that rewards bash fests like the first debate and punishes reformers–if indeed a reformer can manage to get elected–here are the two fixes. And I mean fixes, i.e., Top 5 Nonpartisan Primaries and Ranked Choice Voting. We currently have a system of government in which the two parties cater to their bases. There are few competitive elections. Independents and third-party candidates have virtually no chance to be elected. Most elections are dominated by negative campaigning. There are few remaining moderates. Government is polarized. Officials of the two parties will not work together to get things accomplished. The concept of having open nonpartisan primaries with the Top 5 candidates moving to a final election that will be decided by Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) solves most of these issues. With this system, we should have more candidates, higher turnout, more moderation in campaigning and governing, less control by big money interests, and representatives who are willing to govern in a bipartisan or nonpartisan manner, so that government stops being paralyzed. This type of election reform could bring about major positive changes. 

I am a believer in both Top Five (nonpartisan) Primaries, and Ranked Choice Voting. Here are two very helpful resources. I urge you to go to both to get more information.

  1. Book. “The Politics Industry”: How Political Innovation Can Break Partisan Gridlock and Save Our Democracy Hardcover – June 23, 2020 by Katherine M. Gehl, Michael E. Porter.
  2. Related website. https://democracyfound.org/

Tell me what you believe. I and many others want to know. 

As always, whatever you do, do it in love. Without love, anything we do is empty.

Contact

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Will Luden, coming to you from 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.

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2 Responses

  1. charles cabral Reply

    Has any presidential debate ever decided the outcome of an election? Possibly the first, when Nixon’s 5 o’clock shadow may have cost him votes against Kennedy’s boyish good looks, although some say that Illinois fraud may have had more of an effect.
    I don’t recall ever watching a debate, or the post-debate debates among the talking heads. Except for a possible zinger, which will surely be shown on the news the next day, anything said will pretty much follow the lines already followed by the candidates. Technically, a debate should be over some issue, pro or con, to which the participants then propose their positions. The fact that the latest one came off as a WWE match only removed the pretense of a civil discussion that never was.

    I’m intrigued by the book title “The Politics Industry”. It has appeared to me that there is a group of interests that make a large portion of their income from political campaigns and thus are benefited by big expenditures. I note that the news reports emphasize how much money each candidate raises and spends. Every day, we receive numerous campaign fund requests in the mail or over the phone, due to my wife’s ill-advised contributions in a previous election. Many of these are duplicates (or more) from the same candidate/committee, indicating that a lot of money is being spent and wasted by those asking to be in charge of spending mine. Should we be asking who is really getting the benefit of campaign spending? What I see on TV does little to really clarify and merely throws cliches at us or negatively portrays opponents.
    I agree that some sort of non-partisan primary would be worth a try, maybe a three stage vote where the first winnows the field down to the top four or five and the second selects to top two for a head-to-head. I suspect that the top two would be acutely aware that they were initially the preferred candidate of only a minority of voters.
    I suspect, though, that the problem is more basic than how we elect (select?) a president. The founding fathers intended that the national government be primarily directed by the legislative branch, with the executive branch charged with executing policies. Note that we still quaintly call it “the administration”. How many organizations do you know where the administrators run things? (I know, the boss’s secretary and Sys Admin may be the exception.)

    I can envision a time (not real soon) when network security and reliability become so good that we can have perpetual elections. What if the Senate were made up of the top 100 vote getters based on the on-line preferences of all of the registered voters, all of whom have the ability to change their votes at any time. Any senator could wake up any morning and find that he had fallen out of the top 100 and would be out of a job. I don’t know if we’d get better government, but it would be fun to watch.

    BTW, I’m still not voting for either one of them.

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