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Presidential Debate: Who Would You Want At Your Dinner Table?

September 29, 2020

An odd thought crossed my mind while watching the first of the presidential debates Tuesday night. Though both of my parents have been deceased for less than fifteen years if they were able to have witnessed the spectacle they would wonder what had happened to the nation they once knew. Though Joe Biden and Donald Trump will have their names on the ballot the central question and issue confronting the nation is who we are as citizens. What has happened since John Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, John McCain, and Barack Obama asked for our votes?

In just over 30 days we are going to be answering a series of questions about not only who won the White House, seats in Congress or how local school referendums turned out, but something more fundamental about this nation. Who are we as a people?

I still can not fathom, after watching the Donald Trump years play out how there is still roughly 40% of the electorate who think what he does, and offers as leadership, is in any way appropriate, presidential, or acceptable. Plenty has been written and said about Trump but let us not miss the need to also address those who have supported him, and continue to do so, in face of years of facts which in any logical sense would allow a person to see the gravity of the situation.

Throughout history our presidents and national leaders from both parties have spoken and acted to, and for, our higher ideals, motives, and purposes. They played to our “better angels” and strived to move the nation upwards. But for the past four years we have a president who uses base emotions as a partisan tool as he pokes at the darker side of human nature. When that is unleashed on a nation for a prolonged period we arrive at the point where we now find ourselves.

Over and over, day in and day out, we all turn on the news or pick up the newspaper and are made aware of the most irrational and utterly bizarre words and actions that come from this White House—-our White House. The racism and violence did not begin during Trump’s term, but he has stoked and used them for a selfish and partisan end. The staggering death toll from this pandemic did not happen in other nations. But due to election-year concerns his refusal to seriously address the virus and put forth a plan to combat it has proved deadly.

Other presidents opted to walk a path of decency when dealing with the traumatic upheavals in our nation, striving to lift with words and deeds. With Trump we have had to witness the most base and contemptuous side of human nature be displayed continuously. That is not a partisan statement, that is based on the factual record.

As I sat and watched the debate I also saw a man I have admired and supported for decades, Joe Biden. The man comes with decency written on his life story, along with a proven track record of understanding what a president needs to know when sitting behind the desk in the Oval Office. And just as importantly Joe comes with a solid character and firm principles.

I have heard so many times from family and friends that they yearn for a common-sense normalcy to again be at the heart of our federal government. A president who does not demean and bluster and create chaos so to stir the pot and make himself the center of the nation. Having a principled leader rather than a transactional day-trader. Someone who wants to lead with facts and science and not be driven by a psychological illness for attention.

There are many issues to weigh when it comes to public policy and how best to secure the future for our nation. But when it comes to how best to choose which person on the ballot should be the president we might consider a very basic test. One that my parents would have agreed was a good barometer to use for such a question. Who would we want to sit at our dinner table?

If we can not abide the character of a person up close, can not countenance the language, morals, and low-base qualities within our home and among our family why would we want that person sitting in the Oval Office? A most basic and honest assessment of that question might be the best way to sum up what voters need to know as we vote.

I grant to my readers this is a different perspective from watching tonight’s debate, but it is one i suspect our parents would understand. We should ponder it, too.

And so it goes.

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