Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Important Thing We Learned From the Debate That No One Will Talk About

Predictably, discussion of Tuesday's presidential debate has hinged around the boxing scorecard (Obama by TKO, in my opinion) and the usual array of sound-bite spin wars.  Many on my side of things are rightfully making hay with Romney's "binders full of women" remarks and the utter cluelessness that they revealed, and the Teabagger crowd is still trying to say that the president did not immediately call the attack on the Benghazi consulate an "act of terror."

These are significant issues, but I am amazed at how little people are discussing the concrete policy ideas of the two candidates, and the degree to which they represented them faithfully.  For instance, Mitt Romney, who supports the Pell Grant-slashing budget of his dead-eyed granny killer running mate, said he supported Pell Grants just as soon as the debate began.

While that kind of lying and getting away with it disturbs me plenty, I'd like to take things from an angle that is sorely lacking in the mainstream media and the blogosphere.  On a couple of very important issues for this country, both candidates appeared to support policies that are extremely destructive, and cowardly in their deference to special interests.  I am referring to gun control and energy.

On the latter issue, Romney bizarrely tried to force Obama into a "yes or no" question on whether his administration has reduced the number of oil leases on federal lands.  While the president did a good job of defending himself, he did not once mention the Deepwater Horizon disaster, or the need to protect our nation's common land from environmental devastation.  On the subject of coal, Romney proclaimed his love of that Dickensian throwback.  Obama's did not dare discuss the negative environmental effects of coal, instead he just pointed out that Romney had flip-flopped from his position when he ran for governor of Massachusetts.  We have now apparently reached a point in our national politics where supporting environmental protection is a non-starter for presidential candidates.  This at a time when global climate change threatens the well-being of billions of people around the world.  I think it's clear we can never expect any real action on that coming catastrophe from our political class.

The same goes for gun control.  After a summer of several harrowing mass shootings at the hands of psychopaths and white supremacist terrorists, the president still would not advocate for additional gun control laws.  He turned the question into a discussion of education, while Romney did him one better and spoke about the need for two-parent households.  Thousands of people die needlessly in this country every year because of our gun laws, but no one who wishes to occupy the top office in the land can even acknowledge that fact.

So yes, we did learn that the president has his fight back, and we saw him defeat Romney in an impressive fashion.  (My wife and I jumped up and hugged each other with joy when it was over.)  We saw yet more evidence of Romney's arrogant douchebaggery and lack of empathy with people who aren't wealthy white men.  However, we also witnessed how our current political system, governed by money and special interests, is completely paralyzed when it comes to dealing with crucial life or death issues.  Perhaps we as a nation ought to talk about that for once.

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