FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Debate #2: Is This All There Is?

by DAN DEWALT

Tuesday’s Presidential debate spoke volumes about the sorry state of politics today. Granted, both contenders gave a good show: Obama was back on his game and Romney did his best to sound like Ronald Reagan. The pundits have been given a lovely hopper of fodder to hold them for a week or so. It has been agreed that Americans only care for a spectacle, so this debate will be analyzed and judged the same way any theatrical event gets reviewed by the critics.

Unfortunately, between some of the things that the candidates said and the vast number of issues that they carefully avoided, with the help of a two-party run Debates Commission, the future doesn’t look too bright in the seeing-things-how-they-really-are department.

The two men tripped over each other praising domestic oil and gas extraction, arguing over who is the better friend to fossil fuel energy. Obama gushed excitedly about the 100 years’ worth of natural gas energy that we are starting to extract and consume. He even dragged up that old chestnut, “clean coal,” pointing out its “rightful” place in his energy policies. This is the same President who has been talking about the threat of climate change and our need to cut carbon emissions. But at this point in the campaign, it must be that the message isn’t selling well with potential voters, so any acknowledgement of the problem was jettisoned for the debate performance; better to not remind voters about such a downer issue. Until climate change can be monetized and traded for profit, it’s not going to have much appeal for the voting public.

Our two candidates certainly had their lists of important points to make. But someone must have chosen too big of a font, because there was only room for one: growing the middle class, saving the middle class, raising (or lowering) taxes on the middle class, finding middle class jobs, yearning for the middle class of days gone by. It turns out that we must not have any more poor people in this country, because neither candidate ever finds a minute to mention them, let alone talk about any problems they may face.

When they were asked a simple question by a man with a job that didn’t cover his living expenses, both Romney and Obama waxed on pathetically about how their rival tax policies would create an economy that would lift all boats and get good jobs for all. As they evaded the specific content of the question, neither seemed to have the vaguest idea about how hard it is to survive with today’s wages and prices. They both spoke enthusiastically about how Pell grants and student loans are supposedly making college achievable for more young Americans, but they don’t seem to have a clue about the crushing blow to our economy and our citizenry that result from the disconnect between lending costs and available wages. Their vision of America seems to be limited to the Cosby and Cleaver families.

Romney, while trying to hang every problem country in the Middle East around the President’s neck, did his best to draw attention to the administration’s mishandling of the terrorist attack on our consulate in Libya. Obama tried to sound “Presidential” and was no doubt happy to have to deal with any other foreign policy considerations. Both men seem to have forgotten that we still have tens of thousands of armed mercenaries and U.S. “personnel” in Iraq, which, contrary to administration spin and Pentagon cheerleading, is a country unravelling. Nor did either see fit to mention Afghanistan, where troops are winding down another fighting season as the war enters its second decade with violence increasing once again.

No mention was made of the drone assassination program that abrogates our current treaty with Afghanistan forbidding strikes against other countries from originating on Afghan soil, nor of the increasing tensions and problems in Pakistani/U.S. relations. Other than Romney’s obsession with China as a mean cheater, neither candidate was interested in talking about the U.S. presence and standing in the world.

The media often tell us that because of our short attention span, need for instant gratification, disinterest in complex/subtle/foreign affairs, we get the politicians that we deserve, but it’s more complicated than that. In fact, the media have contributed mightily to the dumbing down of questions and the simplification of issues the more easily to cast the election merely as  stories abut the horse race, or to simply pit the candidates against each other. While Obama and Romney postured on stage to see who could give the best swagger display Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein and her running mate Cheri Honkala were being arrested for merely trying to enter and watch the debate as observers.

The inclusion of Stein, or Rocky Anderson, or any number of other serious third party candidates in that debate would have expanded the conversation to include many issues that really matter to people. Instead, courtesy of a conspiracy by the two main parties, we are led to believe that we only have a choice of two corporate toadies and that the only issue that matters is paying less for energy and lowering taxes.

The media don’t want to mention how the political class lives in a fantasy world that they have constructed through our nation’s history with mythology, rose-colored glasses and highly profitable lies. The power structure has enriched and empowered the wealthy while spinning tales of possibilities to keep the rest of us distracted.

We the people may be gullible. We may be lazy. We may be victims of a class war scam. We may not ask hard questions, or even want to hear the answers. But no nation deserves political leadership that relies on image, soundbites, half truths and head-in-the-sand solutions to vexing problems. How we have gotten to this point may be knowable. How we get beyond it is anyone’s guess.

DAN DeWALT is an activist and journalist based in Newfane, Vermont. He wrote this article for ThisCantBeHappening!, the new independent Project Censored Award-winning online alternative newspaper available at www.thiscantbehappening.net.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

March 28, 2017
Mike Whitney
Ending Syria’s Nightmare will Take Pressure From Below 
Mark Kernan
Memory Against Forgetting: the Resonance of Bloody Sunday
John McMurtry
Fake News: the Unravelling of US Empire From Within
Ron Jacobs
Mad Dog, Meet Eris, Queen of Strife
Michael J. Sainato
State Dept. Condemns Attacks on Russian Peaceful Protests, Ignores Those in America
Ted Rall
Five Things the Democrats Could Do to Save Their Party (But Probably Won’t)
Linn Washington Jr.
Judge Neil Gorsuch’s Hiring Practices: Privilege or Prejudice?
Philippe Marlière
Benoît Hamon, the Socialist Presidential Hopeful, is Good News for the French Left
Norman Pollack
Political Cannibalism: Eating America’s Vitals
Bruce Mastron
Obamacare? Trumpcare? Why Not Cubacare?
David Macaray
Hollywood Screen and TV Writers Call for Strike Vote
Christian Sorensen
We’ve Let Capitalism Kill the Planet
Rodolfo Acuna
What We Don’t Want to Know
Binoy Kampmark
The Futility of the Electronics Ban
Andrew Moss
Why ICE Raids Imperil Us All
March 27, 2017
Robert Hunziker
A Record-Setting Climate Going Bonkers
Frank Stricker
Why $15 an Hour Should be the Absolute Minimum Minimum Wage
Melvin Goodman
The Disappearance of Bipartisanship on the Intelligence Committees
Patrick Cockburn
ISIS’s Losses in Syria and Iraq Will Make It Difficult to Recruit
Russell Mokhiber
Single-Payer Bernie Morphs Into Public Option Dean
Gregory Barrett
Can Democracy Save Us?
Dave Lindorff
Budget Goes Military
John Heid
Disappeared on the Border: “Chase and Scatter” — to Death
Mark Weisbrot
The Troubling Financial Activities of an Ecuadorian Presidential Candidate
Robert Fisk
As ISIS’s Caliphate Shrinks, Syrian Anger Grows
Michael J. Sainato
Democratic Party Continues Shunning Popular Sanders Surrogates
Paul Bentley
Nazi Heritage: the Strange Saga of Chrystia Freeland’s Ukrainian Grandfather
Christopher Ketcham
Buddhism in the Storm
Thomas Barker
Platitudes in the Wake of London’s Terror Attack
Mike Hastie
Insane Truths: a Vietnam Vet on “Apocalypse Now, Redux”
Binoy Kampmark
Cyclone Watch in Australia
Weekend Edition
March 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump is Obama’s Legacy: Will this Break up the Democratic Party?
Eric Draitser
Donald Trump and the Triumph of White Identity Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nothing Was Delivered
Andrew Levine
Ryan’s Choice
Joshua Frank
Global Coal in Freefall, Tar Sands Development Drying Up (Bad News for Keystone XL)
Anthony DiMaggio
Ditching the “Deep State”: The Rise of a New Conspiracy Theory in American Politics
Rob Urie
Boris and Natasha Visit Fantasy Island
John Wight
London and the Dreary Ritual of Terrorist Attacks
Paul Buhle
The CIA and the Intellectuals…Again
David Rosen
Why Did Trump Target Transgender Youth?
Vijay Prashad
Inventing Enemies
Ben Debney
Outrage From the Imperial Playbook
M. Shadee Malaklou
An Open Letter to Duke University’s Class of 2007, About Your Open Letter to Stephen Miller
Michael J. Sainato
Bernie Sanders’ Economic Advisor Shreds Trumponomics
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail