I really do try to be a good citizen, but it’s getting harder every day. When elections come up, I research issues, look up candidate’s voting records, and listen to all of the debates from both parties, to make the most educated decision I can. Last night, though, I was appalled at what I saw. I’ve watched most of the debates, and while there’s no candidate I particularly like, overall, the Democrats did seem to actually be listening to each other and understand the rules, while the Republicans degenerated in name calling, crude jokes, and behavior I can barely tolerate in a bar, much less from the future leader of my country.
I don’t ask for much in a president. I want someone with reasonable intelligence, the ability to keep cool under pressure, the ability to work with other world leaders, and in general, someone who promotes my right to live as I see fit and make my own decisions. I want someone I can trust to make level headed decisions in terms of law and when reacting to other countries.
I don’t see that anywhere in these debates. I see a group of people with the social skills and manners of kindergartners, the difference being that when my kindergartners get out of control, I immediately put a stop to it and allow them to go on when they can behave, unlike these candidates and their moderators. When did crude humor and childish in-fighting take over for civilized and mature debate? How can we trust a single one of them to deal with foreign leaders when they can’t even speak civilly among themselves? Why do the moderators put up with their antics, rather than penalize them for refusing to follow the rules?
I remember trying to teach current events to a classroom of second graders when I first began teaching. I was explaining the difficulty between America and Iraq at the time, and about strife between world leaders. One of my students, Kaylee* replied, “I think that if I was in charge, I would tell Mr. Bush and Mr. Hussein to go into the corner and THINK ABOUT WHAT THEY DID.” That’s how I’m feeling about the candidates I see now–petulant, out of control children. (Kaylee also suggested later that we bring Abraham Lincoln back, because he had done a good job. Another student replied, “I’m pretty sure he’s dead.” Kaylee replied, “Well, did anybody check?”)
Overall, my feeling about this election is disappointment. While there are candidates I think can ultimately do the job, there’s not one I’m excited to vote for. I miss that. I miss feeling like there’s someone I really believe in, someone who can really do what they promise. I like many of Bernie’s ideas, but I don’t think there’s much chance to implement them, especially in this political climate where discourse has been abandoned. But I’m done with the debates for now, and resigned to a long slog of vicious ads, snotty comments, and though I absolutely will vote (I’d vote for my cat over the GOP at this point) I just wish I felt happier about it.