Thoughts At Large

Passionate thoughts on random topics

Category: 2012

Cut!

Movie Board

Action!

“Captain,” said the Chief Engineer in the third bulkhead of Titanic, standing in eighteen inches of north Atlantic ice water, a mere ten minutes after her hull was shredded by the unseen iceberg, “we’re taking on water! What do you want us to do?”

“Take on more water!” replied Captain Smith.

CUT! Wait.  That’s not what happened. That would be stupid.

And…ACTION!

“Stand back you people,” said the Second Officer, pointing his revolver at the crowd surging toward the remaining life boats, “I will shoot the next man to rush forward.”

“No you won’t,” bellowed John Jacob Astor IV, pushing his way toward the front of the crowd. All at once, every member of the crowd cocked back the hammers of their pistols.  Suddenly, the ship righted itself, the gash in her side healed and she maintained her top speed through iceberg-pocked waters toward New York.

CUT! That’s even dumber than before.  That didn’t happen.

Take it from the top. And… ACTION!

“Iceberg, straight ahead!” the hypothermic lookout cried, perched in the crow’s nest high above the gleaming wooden deck below.

“Be calm, my son,” said Jesus, who was standing next to him. And with a wave of his hand, the iceberg melted away and no harm ever befell any of the passengers. They all lived happily ever after and God called them home after a long life and with no pain or suffering.

CUT!  What’s going on here? None of that happened! The ship hit the iceberg, panic ensued, the ship sank and 1,514 people died horrifically painful deaths.

Ah, but there’s the problem.  We’ve all become victims of subscribing to a Hollywood script.  We all believe that we’re at various stages on our own hero’s journey and that everything will end with a storybook ending amidst a symphonic crescendo playing in the background. We die, roll credits.

Reality knows no script.  Reality kicks you in the teeth, waits for you to shake it off, then kicks you in the nuts when your head clears, then hands you a bouquet of roses.  No rhyme, no reason. That’s life! And to presume that there is some cosmic game plan in which you feature in a starring role is both delusional and dangerous. My son’s philosophy professor, Galen Strawson wrote Against Narrativity in 2004. To read it is to appreciate the danger our civilization faces living in this miasma.

2012 in America has been ruled by the gun.  We’ve seen 13 mass shootings this year alone. If we were “stunned” on February 21st at the shooting in Norcross, GA, where four people were killed, plus the shooter, we looked away. If we were “aghast” on February 27th at the shooting in Chardon, OH where three were killed and another two injured, we barely stirred. If we were “upset” on March 8th at the shooting in Pittsburgh, PA where one was killed, plus the shooter and seven were injured, we looked down. If we were “angry” on April 2 at the shooting in Oakland, CA where seven were killed and three injured, we mumbled. If we were “disappointed” on April 6th at the shooting in Tulsa, OK where three were killed and two were injured, we barely noticed. If we were “caught off-guard” on May 30th at the shooting in Seattle, WA, where five were killed, plus the shooter and one more was injured, we changed the channel.  If we were “outraged” on July 20th at the shooting in Aurora, CO, where twelve were killed and fifty-eight were injured, we clicked “Like” on Facebook to send a prayer. If we were “distressed” on August 5th at the shooting in Oak Creek, WI, where six were killed, plus the shooter and three more were injured, we asked “why?” If we were “troubled” on August 13th at the shooting in College Station, TX, where two were killed, plus the shooter and four more were injured, we shook our heads.  If we were “disgusted” on September 27th at the shooting in Minneapolis, MN, where six were killed, plus the shooter and three more were injured, we turned the page. If we were “concerned” on October 21st at the shooting in Brookfield, WI, where three were killed, plus the shooter and four more were injured, we barely blinked. If we even noticed on December 11th the shooting in Happy Valley, OR, where two were killed, plus the shooter and another was injured, we kept quiet. But, if we were not apoplectically pissed-off and sick to our stomachs on December 14th at the shooting in Newtown, CT, where twenty-seven were killed, plus the shooter and an unknown number were injured, we deserve nothing better.

Ours is a society of instant gratification married to an inexplicable faith that when times get tough we can just throw our hands up in the air and assure ourselves that our future is in God’s hands. God will protect me.  This pursuit of gratification and surrendering to faith leads to a society that abdicates personal responsibility and any uncomfortable consequences of our actions.

The gun enthusiast espouses that if everybody had a gun, we would all be safe. If every moviegoer in Aurora had brought their popcorn butter glazed Glock with them, the shooter would have paid the price for threatening “civilized” society. In fact, almost every expert agrees that if there were more guns at the scene it would have erupted into a muzzle flash blinding shooting gallery of bullets exploding everywhere and more injuries and deaths. By this same logic, why don’t we pass out nuclear weapons to every country? Don’t I feel safe now!

Texas has proposed that allowing teachers to carry concealed guns will reduce the number of school shootings. Wrong! Also in Texas (surprise), a gun dealer is offering discounts for teachers! Our knee-jerk reaction to gun horror is always the same.  After Aurora, gun sales went up in Colorado.  Gun sales in Connecticut are up now, too.  “Take on more water,” said the Captain.

Our ship will not right itself, the gash in her side will not heal itself and God will not materialize and melt the iceberg.  We are responsible for our own actions and a required participant in the construction of society. To pass off responsibility to God or to a 200 year old, purposely vague document and its second amendment is to sail with our hands off the ship’s wheel and our eyes closed while we accelerate through the dangerous iceberg-laden waters of life. Who wants to sign up for that cruise? I’m tired of watching rational people rearrange the deckchairs while the ship goes down.

Now is the time to act. Now is the time for lucid voices to be heard. Damn the testosterone addled, myopically stunted gun zealots and the impotent, self-serving government representatives. Raise your voice, drown out the din of gunfire and demand civilization be civilized. If not us, who? If not now, when?

And… Action!

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Death of a Party

Really Texas, really?

It is the inevitable third act of every recent election.  The defeated side demands a recount or legal recourse.  It’s the adult version of “It’s not fair. Do over!”  Whether it’s the Democrats (remember Florida in 2000 with their “dangling” and “pregnant” chads) or Karl Rove’s on-air hissy-fit last Tuesday, sometimes facts are ignored and argued as if unfixed.

The presidential election last Tuesday saw a decisive win for President Obama, winning 332 to 206 in the Electoral College and 62,613,406 to 59,140,591 in the popular vote, garnering 62 more electoral votes than he required and winning the popular vote by 3,472,815 (roughly the same as the populations of Alaska, North Dakota, Vermont, Washington, D.C. and Wyoming combined).  These are the facts. To ignore them or dispute them is unproductive folly. Like it or not, President Obama (and the Democrats) will continue to control the White House for four more years.  But before the Republicans began to lick their wounds and regroup, or begin the painful process of self-exploration, too many of their adherents have taken to crying publicly and stomping their feet.

Bertrand Russell said, “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.” Truer words have never been uttered.  When someone is convinced of the sanctity of their position with absolute certainty, expounding with vitriol and ferocity against the “uneducated masses,” I instinctively dismiss them, protect my children and grab for my wallet.

I always thought that the young, in their idealistic naiveté of wanting to save the world voted Democratic until they began to make some money of their own.  Gradually, their position would change from “save the world” and “help the downtrodden” to “not another slice of my pie” and a NIMBY attitude.  I used to think of Republicans as the party of Alex P. Keaton and Gordon Gecko; market-based capitalists firmly in the Ayn Rand camp of egoism, self-control and material gain.  Perhaps it is a consequence of my having to relocate to Texas in search of the country’s best medical care for my wife, but I now find myself redefining my definition of Republicans.  Nationwide, there has been a shift in the ideals of the Republican Party, carried on the heels of right-wing Christians centered in the Bible-belt.  Every Republican running since Ronald Reagan has run on an outdated, idealistic, fantastic, revisionist historian view of American life in the 1950’s. “If only we could go back to the way it used to be.”  Forgetting, for example, the treatment of women, homosexuals, blacks, Asians, Hispanics, Native Americans, (essentially, everybody who was not a white man), a government that took us to the brink of nuclear annihilation and created a foundation of lies for what would become the Viet Nam war.

Having learned our lessons, through the hard fought civil rights movement, the women’s liberation movement and the return of 11,000 body bags from Viet Nam, Cambodia and Laos (and a generationally divided country where the youth (who were called upon to fight in the war) mistrusted a government that abused it), capitalistic market forces marched on, taking us from the upheaval of the 1960’s to the anti-war crescendo of the mid-1970’s with the overthrow of a sitting president, to the debauchery of the 1970’s and drug-addled 1980’s. The 1990’s saw baby boomers acknowledge that they were the capitalists after all and return to making money, content that they could save the world once their summer home in Maui was paid off.  This brings us to that historical fulcrum, September 11, 2001.  All at once, as the second plane hit the South tower, our insulated, global ignorance shattered with the World Trade Tower glass.  When 3,000 of our neighbors were incinerated that day, we saw in all its naked anger the effects radical religion can have on society.  We did not deserve this assault, but neither did we prevent its happening.  Content to let our government back one Middle Eastern dictator after another (from the Shah in Iran to Saddam Hussein in Iraq, from the Saudi family to Mubarak in Egypt) we lived our lives in happy oblivion under the dated misconception that we were protected by two oceans. Once we circled the wagons and held each other for comfort in the new and terrifying world order where enemies did not march under a recognized flag and so-called “smart bombs” assuaged any guilt we had bombing civilian neighborhoods where our enemies used schools and hospitals as human shields, the Republican party reverted back to a world view that neither existed nor should have existed; a world where minorities, women and homosexuals were heeled under by white middle-aged men and religious zeal validated any injustices.  Unfortunately, or fortunately, the ensuing six decades since the 1950’s saw the “melting pot” of America change the flavors of the stew.  As the number of Asians and Hispanics increased, the percent of the population comprised of whites diminished accordingly.  Republicans continued to ignore this demographic paradigm shift and catered to an ever decreasing slice of Americans.  Emboldened by the Christian right and using all manner of euphemisms for “middle aged white men,” the soundly beaten Republican Party now finds itself at a crossroads.  One road leads to a future based on personal responsibility and social accountability while the other terminates in a dead end in less than ten years.

Nowhere is this battle more evident than in Texas.  In fact, with California (and its 55 electoral votes) and New York (and its 29 electoral votes) solidly blue, Texas (and its 38 electoral votes) is the future of the Republican Party.  As the immigration wave continues to push northward through the country and the young migrate south, typically Republican Texas demographics dwindle.  Seen as reliably red since Lyndon Johnson proclaimed to Bill Moyers after signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, “I think we just delivered the South to the Republican Party for a long time to come,” minorities now hold sway over the party’s very existence.  And rather than face this fact, some Texans threaten to do again what they did in 1861, that is to say secede.

Welcome to the new country of MadaNASCAR!

The White House website has created a “We the People” site allowing citizens to create petitions for government consideration.  A cursory view of the site shows that forty-two states have petitions (some multiple as if their citizens cannot read) requesting to “peacefully be allowed to secede from the United States and form their own government.”  However, while most of these petitions will fail to reach the 25,000 signature threshold, upon which a formal response will be generated by the administration, the Texas petition is closing in on 100,000 signatures as of this writing.  Only those petitions from Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, Alabama, Texas and Louisiana have eclipsed the 25,000 signature mark, the second highest tally being Louisiana with just over 33,000 signatures. Ironically, and no doubt created with some caprice, there is a petition which has gathered over 4,000 signatures requesting that the city of Austin be allowed “to withdraw from the state of Texas and remain part of the United States!”

Current Republican intransigence and Texan hubris guarantee the party’s extinction.  There are estimates that Texas will transition to a blue state within the course of the next presidential election cycle.  If that is allowed to occur, if California, Texas and New York are solidly blue, there is virtually no mathematical chance for a Republican to garner the requisite 270 electoral votes to become president.  Covering one’s eyes does not prevent the bus from hitting you.  Threatening to secede does nothing to prevent your losing your seat at the table.  Republicans must acknowledge that it is not 1950 any longer and that minorities (who will not remain “minor” for very much longer), women and homosexuals may soon make up the lion’s share of the electorate and have learned to make their voices known.  Mitt Romney won the male vote 52% to 45%, the 65 and older vote 56% to 44%, the white vote 59% to 39%, the religious vote 59% to 39%, the anti-immigrant (self-deporting is a good and viable idea) vote 73% to 24% and married people vote 56% to 42%.  However, it was clearly not enough. Will we look back upon the 2012 election as the last run by Republicans using the old game plan, having embraced change while encouraging personal responsibility or as a sacrosanct platform used again in 2016 and saw the party of Lincoln fade from relevance and disappear?  In a word, should we help those wanting to secede pack or show them their seat at the new American table?

Perhaps…

Perhaps the Republican Party will reflect on this election loss and consider its implications on their future.

Perhaps the religious right will no longer be the centerpiece of the Republican Party.  America largely ignored Romney’s Mormonism as an issue.  Perhaps Republicans can learn to ignore everybody else’s religion (or lack thereof).  As America becomes increasingly secular, perhaps we can dispense with the politically correct insipidness that it is alright for anybody to believe in creationism after they have attained the age of two and played with a toy dinosaur.  Perhaps the fanaticism employed by the right in their attempts to include God in every discussion should be left to the Islamic fanatics of the Middle East.  Perhaps the frenzied somnambulist’s nightmare of sharia law infiltrating American jurisprudence can be left to the conspiracy theorists.  Surely we can agree that while American’s rejected Romney’s attempt to return the United States to the social constructs of the year 1950, are there any circumstances under which we would accept a return to the Islamic laws of the year 632?  Someone once said that one conspiracy theorist is a schizophrenic, whereas a group of them is a Republican convention.  Perhaps it is time to change that.

Perhaps the right wing will clear themselves of their paranoid miasma of a national “confiscation day,” where President Obama personally goes door-to-door collecting every gun from the self-proclaimed “sane,” 2nd amendment loving, NRA financing, gun lovers.  Perhaps we can have a rational discussion on gun control and agree that ordinary citizens probably do not need a semi-automatic assault rifle with a 100 round clip in order to defend themselves from a burglar, unless the burglar is China, in which case we have an exceedingly well armored military.

Perhaps Republicans can agree that rape is not a topic on which there can be two rational sides.

Perhaps Republicans will see women’s rights and control over their own bodies as sacrosanct and not fodder for white men to debate.

Perhaps marriage equality will extend its foothold in the less religiously rigid states and plant the seeds for a national discussion devoid of homosexuality being considered a moral abomination and “curable.”

Perhaps Republicans will see Latino’s not as a monolithic Democratic voting block consisting of “wetbacks” and illegal (I hate this term) aliens, but rather Americans.  A look at any of the maps used by the networks in last night’s election coverage shows that America, beyond Tim Russert’s Red State/Blue State analogy is really about urban versus suburban, white versus everybody else (captured as that all-encompassing and grossly misrepresentative term “ethnic”).  For example,  white suburban Virginia versus the “ethnic” northern part of the state, white suburban Ohio versus the “ethnic,” blue-collared northern part of the state, white suburban western Pennsylvania versus the “ethnic” Philadelphia region.  See a pattern?  White’s comprise huge swaths of territory, but with few inhabitants versus the “ethnic” and densely populated cities.  The Red State/Blue State paradigm is flawed.  Perhaps, it should be county based, or perhaps it is time for white Americans to stop trying to return America to the “good old days” of segregation and oppressive “white power” and embrace their place in the prismatic colors that are America’s skin tones.

Perhaps Republicans will take this opportunity to unite with Democrats and engage in meaningful arguments about the cataclysmic topics facing America, represent their constituents without abandoning the greater good and moving the needle on America’s march into an energy independent future.  Perhaps we can dispense with the banal name calling and talentless idolatry rampant in America and engender personal responsibility as a manifesto for our children.

Perhaps Donald Trump will donate his $5 million to a charity of his choice and sit down.

Perhaps, but probably not.

Game Day Quotes

The election is finally upon us.  We vote today and await the results tonight.  Tomorrow all the political placards will vanish from our lawns.  All of the candidate commercials on television will give way and our TV’s will once again be bombarded with advertisements for erectile dysfunction prescriptions, Fords, Chevy’s, pizza and college football promotions.  Before we move on to another sporting season, here are a few select quotes on the political process for your amusement and consideration.  As always, comments are appreciated.

“Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve.”  ― George Bernard Shaw

“I do not know if the people of the United States would vote for superior men if they ran for office, but there can be no doubt that such men do not run.”  ― Alexis de Tocqueville

“Our great democracies still tend to think that a stupid man is more likely to be honest than a clever man.”  ― Bertrand Russell

“Democracy is reproached with saying that the majority is always right. But progress says that the minority is always right.”  ― G.K. Chesterton

“Every election is determined by the people who show up.”  ― Larry J. Sabato

“In a republican nation, whose citizens are to be led by reason and persuasion and not by force, the art of reasoning becomes of first importance” ― Thomas Jefferson

“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser men so full of doubts.”  ― Bertrand Russell

“Omnia praeclara tam difficilia quam rara sunt (All things excellent are as difficult as they are rare)”  ― Baruch Spinoza

“We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.”  ― Thomas Jefferson

“I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made.”  ― Franklin D. Roosevelt

“Those who will not reason, perish in the act. Those who will not act, perish for that reason.”  ― W.H. Auden

“All I have is a voice.”  ― W.H. Auden

“The governor of Texas, who, when asked if the Bible should also be taught in Spanish, replied that ‘if English was good enough for Jesus, then it’s good enough for me.” ― Christopher Hitchens

“The essence of the independent mind lies not in what it thinks, but in how it thinks.”  ― Christopher Hitchens

“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.”  ― Sinclair Lewis

“If you are bored and disgusted by politics and don’t bother to vote, you are in effect voting for the entrenched Establishments of the two major parties, who please rest assured are not dumb, and who are keenly aware that it is in their interests to keep you disgusted and bored and cynical and to give you every possible reason to stay at home doing one-hitters and watching MTV on primary day. By all means stay home if you want, but don’t bullshit yourself that you’re not voting. In reality, there is no such thing as not voting: you either vote by voting, or you vote by staying home and tacitly doubling the value of some Diehard’s vote.”  ― David Foster Wallace

“You have to remember one thing about the will of the people: it wasn’t that long ago that we were swept away by the Macarena.”  ― Jon Stewart

“A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves.”  ― Edward R. Murrow

“On Undecided Voter​s: “To put them in perspective, I think of being on an airplane. The flight attendant comes down the aisle with her food cart and, eventually, parks it beside my seat. “Can I interest you in the chicken?” she asks. “Or would you prefer the platter of shit with bits of broke​n glass in it?”  To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked.”  ― David Sedaris

“In politics we presume that everyone who knows how to get votes knows how to administer a city or a state. When we are ill… we do not ask for the handsomest physician, or the most eloquent one.”  ― Plato

“If pro is the opposite of con, what is the opposite of Congress?”  ― Will Rogers

“If you actually are an educated, thinking person, you will not be welcome in Washington, D.C. I know a couple of bright seventh graders who would not be welcome in Washington D.C.”  ― Kurt Vonnegut

“The whole dream of democracy is to raise the proletariat to the level of stupidity attained by the bourgeoisie.”  ― Gustave Flaubert

“Come senators, congressmen

Please heed the call

Don’t stand in the doorway

Don’t block up the hall

For he that gets hurt

Will be he who has stalled

There’s a battle outside ragin’.

It’ll soon shake your windows

And rattle your walls

For the times they are a-changin’.”  ― Bob Dylan

“Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied.”  ― Otto von Bismarck

“If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.  – Nelson Mandela

“It is a great danger for everyone when what is shocking changes.”  ― Graham Greene

“But, Jefferson worried that the people – and the argument goes back to Thucydides and Aristotle – are easily misled. He also stressed, passionately and repeatedly, that it was essential for the people to understand the risks and benefits of government, to educate themselves, and to involve themselves in the political process.  Without that, he said, the wolves will take over.”  ― Carl Sagan

“Even a purely moral act that has no hope of any immediate and visible political effect can gradually and indirectly, over time, gain in political significance.”  ― Václav Havel

“They deem him their worst enemy who tells them the truth.”  –Plato

“In a democracy, the most important office is the office of citizen.”  ― Louis Brandeis

“Ideology is the science of idiots.”  ― John Adams

“History is changed by martyrs who tell the truth.”  ― Miguel Syjuco

“A thinking man never be a party man.”  ― Friedrich Nietzsche

“Let no one misunderstand our idea; we do not confound what are called ‘political opinions’ with that grand aspiration after progress with that sublime patriotic, democratic, and human faith, which, in our days, should be the very foundation of all generous intelligence.”  ― Victor Hugo

“I take criticism so seriously as to believe that, even in the midst of a battle in which one is unmistakably on one side against another, there should be criticism, because there must be critical consciousness if there are to be issues, problems, values, even lives to be fought for… Criticism must think of itself as life-enhancing and constitutively opposed to every form of tyranny, domination, and abuse; its social goals are noncoercive knowledge produced in the interests of human freedom.”  ― Edward W. Said

“In the early ages of the world, according to the scripture chronology, there were no kings; the consequence of which was there were no wars; it is the pride of kings which throws mankind into confusion.”  ― Thomas Paine

Undecided No More

Image from The New Yorker

My son, a freshman in college, and I were on the phone last night discussing our impressions of the latest town hall debate between President Barack Obama and former governor Mitt Romney.  Given the particularly rancorous tone the debate had, a mirrored reflection of the actual campaign, I commented that I found it hard to believe that there were enough undecided voters in the country to fill the audience, let alone that many in Nassau County; but there they were.

Rabid, robotic sycophants in each party leave no room for the truly undecided voter to express their uncertainty with a candidate lest they be subjected to immediate internment in the opposing camp, suddenly responsible for each plank in a platform in which they are ill-prepared and unwilling to defend.  Are these undecided voters genuinely inquisitive, searching for positions on a myriad of issues or are they the dull, unread and oblivious?  For the sake of the future of the United States, I hope it is the former while concerned it is the later.

The polarization of politics, the fracturing of consensus and absence of debate, the removal of concession as a tool toward progress has paralyzed politics.  A shattered media, where any myopic obsession with one particular issue is rewarded with its own cable channel and a thousand militant websites, encourages the electorate to choose a candidate for their position on a single issue and while ignoring the candidate’s position on every other issue as “somebody else’s problem.” You’re concerned about the economy? The environment be damned.  You’re concerned about healthcare? Jobs be damned. And so on…

Neither candidate has successfully escaped this reality.  In a perfect world, Mitt Romney would be able to express the desire for small business (“the economic engine of the country”) to thrive and grow.  He would be able to encourage the celebration of the individual based on their genius and initiative (not their celebrity quotient), rewarded with the fruits of a capitalistic marketplace or starved by the same; where wealth is seen, not as the unconscionable greed plundered by the mindless “looters” of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, but celebrated as the moral destination of individual gain.  In this perfect world there would be more Hank Rearden’s and Dagny Taggart’s and fewer Wesley Mouch’s and Jim Taggarts.  Unfortunately, this industrial utopia ignores the choices people make.  Atlas Shrugged spends an exhaustive number of pages explaining that the choice a mother makes to give the last piece of bread to her child is not a sacrifice and not given out of pity, but the rational choice of a rational mind.  In the real world, choices like this are made by individuals on a daily basis with no expectation of societal support in return.  Honor is held internally by these individuals, as they navigate life’s course, carved by the choices they have made and determined to persevere.  There are no children in Atlas Shrugged and no characters ravaged by illness, excepting, of course, that a conscious refusal to think for one’s self is terminal. In reality, there are those whom Fortune has betrayed, felled by disease or events beyond their control for whom that proverbial “governmental safety net” should be axiomatic.

Conversely, President Obama has not been able to effectively convey a perfect world where government involvement in the minds and pocketbooks of citizens is not for the benefit of the lazy takers and looters, but where an “audacity of hope” lifts all boats; where society’s infrastructure is measured in the tons of steel and yards of cement in our roads and bridges and not in the number of governmental agencies handing out food stamps and welfare checks to the unworthy.  He has not been able to sell his opponents on a middle class worthy of the platitudes bestowed upon it by Democrats as the hardworking backbone of America, and not the resource-sponging Pablum vilified by Republicans.  To assume that every citizen is doing their best and ignoring society’s leeches does nothing but invite deserved criticism.    No amount of rhetoric can make up for the picture of the able-bodied young man who has fathered countless children without concern for their future, waiting in line for a government check rather than searching for work, laughing in full belief that the government “owes” him.  Nor has the president escaped the portrait, painted in dazzlingly surreal colors by the “Confiscation Day” fear-mongering NRA, of  him as a soft, yellow, liberal hoplophobe, as opposed to a father and leader legitimately questioning why regular citizens need to own AR-15’s with 100 round drums.

Each side sees only the idealized version of themselves in the mirror and ignores the Dorian Gray painting in the corner while only seeing the Dorian Gray painting of their opponent.

My son suggested that the town hall format, while colloquial and folksy did little to further either candidate’s command of the undecided.  He, himself an accomplished high school debater, suggested that there be two debates scheduled for future presidential campaigns.  Each candidate selects the most partisan member of the media they can find, crafts pointed questions and directs them at their opponent, knowing that their opponent will have the same opportunity in the next round.  In fact, why not remove the commentator altogether?  This would eliminate the bias claims leveled at every commentator by partisan hacks and conspiracy theorists.  Simply have one debate where the Republican candidate asks questions directly to the Democratic candidate and a second debate where the Democratic candidate asks questions directly to the Republican candidate.  These debates should be limited to six hours in length and broadcast on every cable and radio station.  Proof of viewership (of both debates) should be required of every voter on election night, thus ensuring that an informed electorate is a prepared electorate, undecided no more.