Presidential Debate Discussion

I watched the debates last night. I envisioned voting day in my dreams. And I discovered that distinguishing these candidates comes down to one question—Are polarization and division healthy for this country?

Democrat or Republican, answering this question immediately eliminates several candidates. During the Republican segment, the commentators asked what values would the candidates use when faced with immense pressure—an excellent question. The answers lacked personal values and provided worthwhile insight about the candidates’ disconnect from the populace and their penchant for leading with fear.

If you believe in division, the Republicans offer ample candidates for your choosing. Only John McCain showed an opposite tendency. He expressed a willingness to work with others and find inclusive solutions for the good of the country. The others generally echoed a measure of hatred or venom for one group or another. Ron Paul was the exception and the most conceptual thinker, but too conceptual to win a general election.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton, seemingly wants division. Among the four remaining candidates, she alone, stood for a message: get back at the Republicans. Connecting the dots in her message creates a telling and convincing picture:

  • 35 years experience,
  • ability to accomplish things in government
  • ready to govern from day one, or
  • only one already been through the Republican attack machine.

It saddens me, that she cannot better explain her value as a leader. Her words and body language, confirm for me, why she never took back her vote for war authorization. In my mind’s eye, she agreed with the Bush Administration’s initial calculation, and would like the same deference as president.

This attitude is the same as used by the Bush administration in its spread democracy campaign—win the election and then everyone else follows. For me, democracy (inside or outside the US) is not purely an election where people follow the winner, nor is it simply establishing the rule of law. No, making democracy work, is all about inclusion. Inclusive enough, so an election’s losers would rather wait for the next election, than resist and separate from the concluded election. The Republican party during the first six years of the Bush Presidency treated the losers, as irrelevant. They epitomized the “with us or against us” mentality gone bad; inclusion was too cumbersome an activity for their arrogance.

Alas, we have effectively seen the end of Hillary Clinton’s campaign. The swing voters (also known as independents) will resist her lack of inclusion leading to a continued decline in support from her two core constituencies: women and African-Americans, and it will sink her campaign. The most important statistical finding from the Iowa campaign, was that Barack Obama won a majority of the woman vote.

I am not 100% sure of my vote, but Obama’s words do ring crystal-clear, “words matter, and as President, you have to be able to energize the public, to make government responsive to the public.” When reading positions, I usually side with Bill Richardson, but I do not sense he is the charismatic leader we need.

My worthless prediction, or maybe its my secret desire:

A McCain/Huckabee ticket versus an Obama/Edwards ticket in a too close to call race.

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