I Need a Seat at the Next Debate Table


The United States' national political process should be declared a disaster zone. I am embarrassed for our country with how presidential elections have become sideshows. The current field of presidential candidates is littered with egomaniacs, bullies, whiners, liars, and professional politicians. These types of participants might not be new to the process, but this group has taken things to a new low. I am unsure I want to have any of them lead our country. It is no wonder that people have become disenchanted, and they have stopped participating in the process.

As we watch the players campaign and "debate," the antics and tactics often seem more suited for a playground argument. Debate doesn't even come close to what is happening. I freely admit that I am not very mature but watching the candidates in public and on stage at the debates, I think that I am the adult in the room.

The players have strayed from debating in every possible direction. The following problems and concerns made my short list:

1. Promises to solve problems are thrown around like candy at Christmas parades, but no plan is put forth as to how make those promises become realities. Most of our country's challenges have evolved over many decades. Promises of easy short-term solutions don't fly with me.

2. The same is true about blame. As a diversionary tactic most of these candidates are so interested in placing blame that they give little thought to solutions.

3. Personal attacks are made about one another's looks, families, and backgrounds. I don't care if you are from the planet Uranus and look like John Merrick (The Elephant Man). If you have a workable plan to help our country move forward, you have my vote.

4. The candidates have become creationists and inventors. I don't mean creationists relative to their religious views or inventors based on a Ronco product they are selling on late-night TV. I refer to what they do with statistics and studies. They create and invent their reality. Fact-checking what has been presented as the truth has found that they all are lying regularly. Unfortunately, one frontrunner has been exposed for fabricating or twisting reality about three out of every four times he makes a claim.

5. Presenting and explaining ideas has gotten lost in this ugly shuffle. The standard MO is not about policies, plans, programs, and possible solutions. It has become about jabs at opponents, with many being cheap shots slightly below the belt.

6. P. T. Barnum would be proud of the networks for their showmanship. The methods of invitation to the debate table involved a secret plan that seemed to factor in how many tickets you could sell (or advertising you could buy). If you happened to fit that bill, you made it to the table through the backdoor, even if you were polling at 0%.

Mark Twain was once quoted, "Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does the work." The biggest issue in this campaign debacle is that there is plenty of thunder, but no one is offering up the lightning. I am further troubled that the voices creating the thunder are not voices that understand my world. They need to stop pretending they are average Americans and start getting input from people in the trenches. The candidates and their lifestyles are far from average, and they need wake-up calls from people outside their worlds.

Our country lives and dies with the small-business people and the blue-collar workers, yet they have little or no voice in our country. Money talks, and those good people in the proverbial trenches often don't have the money to buy a voice. If you want to understand or "get it," you have to listen to the small-business owners and the blue-collar workers. They live it.

These debates have become like family holiday gatherings. The scene is often chaotic and participants interrupt each other while trying to "debate" issues. There are often arguments, as anecdotal and unsubstantiated claims are interjected. An increase in volume is a tactic often used, with the thought that if it is said loud enough, it might sound as though it is true.

In this debate season, we have even seen the birth of the kids' table. At family gatherings, moving up to the adult table was a big deal. After doing so, I remember being disappointed. The adults didn't ever listen to us kids. They were too busy trying to make their points with the other adults. That being the case, I want a seat at the kids' debate table.

I am a carpenter and building contractor. I have earned a living in that world for more than 40 years. My years of running a small construction firm have provided me with literal and figurative bumps, bruises, blood, sweat, and tears. Let's call it tuition for my seat at the table. Maybe the other candidates can learn something from my blue-collar observations in their white-collar world. By the way, I am currently polling at 0%, but that hasn't kept others from the table.