14 October 2004

Citizenry and the second debate

After I watched the second debate the other night at Mather House, I
was speaking to friend “Mark” on the West Coast.  We went on, as
we are wont to do, about the ways in which each guy either answered or
did not answer the question(s) well.  In most cases, we agreed
that Kerry and Bush could have both had better responses in a number of
situations.  I think we know what to expect from each of them, and
so there were no surprises there.

The audience members, however, impressed me very much. They asked hard questions about matters of serious import. They asked open-ended questions
By their questions, the audience seemed to be well-educated and
concerned about the matters at hand.  (In the first debate, the
President did not seem to be at least the first and possibly the
second.)  They evidenced curiosity about who these two guys
are.  They took their duty as citizen-governors seriously. 
They took ownership of the political system.  And they realized
that the people and government are not oppositional to one another —
they are one and the same.  When people ask me if and when I am
proud to be an American, it’s moments like the citizen questions in the
second debate that make me thin that there’s hope for the republic.

It’s hard to reconcile the above with the stories we see after every
debate about voters who still can’t make up their minds.  Neither
of these guys are perfect — neither of them will match every policy
preference position that each person has.  You get some of what
you want and some of what you don’t in each of them.  But the
contrasts seem pretty clear by this point, and these are two different
men with two different agendas for the nation.  How can we remain

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