With the election season upon us, the DC Supper Club came together with the other local IF chapters in order to discuss the initial presidential debate between Obama and Romney. The size of the group was approximately 30 people who represented the entire spectrum. While the discussion was structured around the “Democratic Promise” possibility booklet,we started the night started off with an open discussion session involving the entire group. Guests were free to express their expectations about the debate and their thoughts about some of the issues that would likely arise. One striking comment that was thrown out involved concerns that the conditions surrounding the 2004 Gore-Bush election dispute were again appearing. These concerns were illustrated by examples of an activist and conservative Supreme Court, which recently gave us decisions such as Heller and Citizens United; and the introduction of new voter registration requirements in Pennsylvania and other states.
There was much anticipation about what the candidates would say during the debate, but there seemed to be an overall sense that regardless of what each of the candidates said, government would continue as usual and each persons allegiance would depend upon their own personal interest and not that of the collective. In addition, there were comments made that each candidate would try to appear reasonable and not offend any large voting block. These comments and others brought out a number of the possibilities discussed in the Democratic Promise report, as these questions delved directly into issues such as is the adequacy of the Supreme Court, the possible disenfranchisement of citizens due to questionable voting laws, the role of big money and special interests in elections and the role of the individual in a democracy.
During the smaller break out sessions, Obama for the most part was identified with liberal policies designed to improve society, with Romney taking the other end of the spectrum and being painted as the candidate of big business and the wealthy. During the debate neither candidate disappointed their constituents as each stuck to what appeared to be a carefully prescribed script; however, Romney was able to surprise many folks in attendance as he gave more general details without being specific about how he would change the country’s trajectory. Despite immersing the audience in facts and figures, Obama was not able to effectively give himself a congratulatory pat on the back for the work of his administration over the last 3.5 years. In addition, he allowed a surprisingly warm Romney to paint him in a box on many issues and backpedal on others. While there were many Obama supporters in the room the first round clearly went to Romney.