“I wish I could give you a lot of advice, based on my experience of winning political debates. But I don’t have that experience. My only experience is at losing them.”
~ Richard M. Nixon
Set your citizen’s clock: The first presidential debate is tonight at 8 p.m. Central time tonight.
Voting is a privilege of citizenship, and informed voters are better voters. During the party conventions, I encouraged people to watch Romney‘s and Obama‘s speeches, and I believe watching at least one of the debates between the two men would be instructive as well.
Don’t follow the lead of so many members of the media who cover a political campaign like it’s a horse race. Unlike the experience of Nixon, who was not a good debater and turned out to be a flawed president, I would encourage voters to watch the debate without looking for a winner or a loser. Gaffes and gotchas might be entertaining, but I don’t think they really reveal the integrity or intentions of the candidate. Everyone blows it once in a while so to judge on a slip of the tongue, which the media is just obsessed with this election season, isn’t fair. Rather, listen to what Romney and Obama say they want to do and how their position might complement your own.
Tonight’s debate will be broadcast live on C-SPAN, ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC, as well as all cable news channels including CNN, Fox News and MSNBC among others. You can also watch online. Jim Lehrer, host of NewsHour on PBS, is the moderator. I have plans tonight until 8, so I’ll be listening to the debate in my car on National Public Radio.
Here’s your preparation check list for a citizen’s minimum effort in electing a president:
- Watch Romney’s speech. Check.
- Watch Obama’s speech tonight. Check.
- Watch at least part of one presidential debate.
- Vote on Nov. 6.
This is not too much to ask in return for the American infrastructure and freedoms you enjoy every day.
The candidates also debate again Oct. 16 and Oct. 22.