I'm getting ready to watch the second presidential debate tonight. I watched the first, but wasn't able to watch the Vice-Presidential candidates debate, and am glad to live in a place where we have the opportunity to freely express our ideas, whether or not we agree with our neighbor or our government.
During the debate, I expect to see a few things. I expect to see the candidates not really answering the questions they're asked.
I expect to see the candidates highlighting their opponent's weaknesses more than they highlight their own strengths.
I expect to see the candidates act cordial to one another while their political machines work overtime to exploit any shortcomings they see in their opponent's performance.
I expect to see, in the aftermath of the debate, each candidate villainized by the other by way of advertising (we don't really believe that the so-called independent political advertisers and organizations are actually independent, do we?).
That's what I expect to see, but it's not what I want to see. Here's what I'd love to see in tonight's debate.
I'd love to see the candidates actually answer the questions they're asked.
I'd love to see the candidates respectfully disagree, even to the point of acknowledging the strengths of their opponent's position.
I'd love to see the candidates articulate the strengths of their own position rather than the weaknesses of their opponent's position (or character, or anything else).
And I'd love to see, in the aftermath of the debate, political advertising that points to strengths rather than sensationalizing weaknesses. And most especially, I'd love to see advertising that doesn't demonize any candidate or the supporters of that candidate.
What we seem to forget in our political discourse is that the person who holds a different position from mine is still a person ~ no better or worse than any other person.
In the language of my own tradition, whether you're a Democrat or a Republican … whether you're a Conservative or a Liberal … whether you're a Socialist or a Libertarian … no matter who you are, you're a beloved Child of G-d, and so is your opponent. We'd do well, I think, to remember that during the debate.