The Big Payback
What a dramatic turn of events! This debate season is vacillating between dreadful droning from the presidential candidates last week to dogged cussedness bordering on verbal fisticuffs between the Vice Presidential candidates during their only debate held October 11, 2012. In the midst of it all, the Interactivity Foundation’s Urban Presidential Debate Watch has fomented a lot of discussion albeit focusing more on the debates as opposed to the selected policy project. Our group was even larger than the initial Presidential Debate Watch Party, and the venue was more accommodating so that everyone could hear the participants’ thoughtful commentary concerning the candidates’ anticipated matchup. Apparently, a number of participants from the first debate enjoyed the experience so much that they came back for a second helping and brought friends! The atmosphere reminded me of any number of boxing match parties that I have attended where everyone is prognosticating each candidate’s chances to win the debate. This outlet has been an invaluable effort to disseminate the IF… method and educate participants on the importance of policy discussions. All of the participants I invited really appreciated the opportunity to dialogue about the upcoming election, and they are eagerly anticipating the rematch next week Tuesday between the presidential contenders. Moreover, all of them wanted to return next week to see how the presidential candidates fare in their second debate.
The one drawback from last evening was the lack of differing viewpoints, as all of our participants were solidly middleclass liberal leaning voters. The cacophony of catcalls corresponded with the political persuasion of the candidate who lobbed the zingers—and that was invariably Vice President Biden for the majority of the debate. When Representative Ryan managed to get a word in, boos were quite evident. My mission for the next debate is to find people that are solidly Republican voters so that there can be more of an exchange of ideas prior to the debate beginning and a more balance reaction after the debate. As one participant opined, “The makeup of this room does not reflect the makeup of America.” While he was commenting on the socio-economic status of the majority African American participants, that keen observation can be extrapolated to political affiliation as well. I think we do a disservice to the method if we don’t have opposing viewpoints making the possibilities limitless. Perhaps the dialogue would have been more spirited and we could actually discern policy differences between the two campaigns as opposed to merely bemoaning our lack of familiarity with what the Romney campaign proposes. I think the participants mostly take for granted that the Obama campaign has their best interests at heart and that may not necessarily be the case. Harking back to the participant’s observation, there were definitely participants that made more than the Obama threshold of $250,000.00 dollars for purposes of tax-cut expiration. While most don’t mind paying their fair share, I have not heard from any participants in this category that take issue with the threshold. I think it would be illuminating to see Obama supporters explain how they reconcile their support for the administration when it is arguably against their own interest. Likewise, I would love to hear from Romney supporters who believe his vision for the economy would work better than what we are currently doing.
I for one enjoyed the active sparring that the candidates engaged in, and the moderator was more engaged in this debate. This debate seemed to be red meat to the liberal masses assembled and the night ended on a high note. Again, I noticed a majority of participants engaged in their phones on either Twitter or Facebook throughout the night. I truly believe that our population is becoming more engaged in the political process through social media, and as an Election Official by trade, I hope this interaction manifests in more voter participation at the polls. I firmly believe a robust democracy starts with the principle of “one man/woman, one vote,” and to crib a phrase made popular by my fraternity: “A vote-less people is a hopeless people.”