The last presidential debate (October 16, 2012) was a town hall style. Attendees were screened from a group of undecided voters and a few were selected to read their question for the candidates responses. The only thing that was real about the entire ordeal were the questions. Once you got beyond the artificial parameters that really make up a town hall style presidential debate, including the supposed agreed upon rules, the only thing left that is truly real are the people and the questions they ask.
I have no doubt that each person selected had a question that was very personal for them. Their question reflected something personal they’re facing in their own life: a job when he graduates, equal employment opportunity for her, being able to afford putting fuel in his car, the uncertainty of the immigration process. They were asking a question about something that mattered to them, something they were very concerned about, wondering how this election was going to impact them.
Sadly, I’m not sure any of these people really had their questions answered. When the camera panned back to them during the candidate’s response, their facial expression did not portray engagement. How could they be engaged? The question was only a front for the candidate to get out their practiced response for that topic. The event didn’t really allow for substantive discussion of the particular question asked. A media event is not the same as a person-to-person conversation.
Politics is personal. Policies affect us personally. The people we elect are charged with governing for the good of all of us. Policies that affect all of us and what is deemed as fundamentally good for all are where the differences begin to show between parties and candidates. That’s just the beginning. We also know that outcomes and effectiveness spiral out of control after that no matter who is elected.
Almost every issue brought up during this campaign impacts me and/or my four-generations of family personally: equal pay for equal work, small business development, the economy, health care and choice, access to education, unemployment, same-sex marriage, medicare, social security, poverty, the environment. Immigration is the only issue which does not directly impact us, but we do live in two states with different approaches on immigration, among other things.
Thankfully, the end of this seemingly eternal general election is in sight. We live in an early voting state and I will be in that voting line day one. It’s personal.