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A vote for facts - By Daniel Riordan

October 15, 2012

Filed under the category of “Three hours of my life I’ll never get back”, I watched both the Presidential and Vice-Presidential debates.
Debate is a laughable word to use toward these events.
For those who were busy out living their lives during the debates, I’ll give you the Cliffs Notes version.
Moderator: What specifically will you do to help the middle class?
Republican: We love the middle class. The President is trying to destroy it.
Democrat: We’re the party that cares about the middle class. All the Republicans care about is wealth.
This then goes on in some iteration for about an hour and a half. It doesn’t matter the topic, the choreography is the same.
Moderator asks for specifics, a candidate avoids the question, gets into talking points and attacks the opposition.
The only time you seem to get direct answers is when the question is ridiculous to begin with.
At Thursday night’s Vice Presidential debate, the moderator asked both candidates how being Catholic played into their politics.
That softball was followed up by “What as a man makes you uniquely qualified?”
If the debate went any longer I was waiting for “What’s your favorite color?” or “Talk about how you love your family.”
And this is supposed to move forward the national conversation on important topics?
The blame doesn’t rest solely on the candidates or the networks or the moderator.
They talk in platitudes and generalities and answer dumb questions because they feel like anything more would be over the head of too many viewers.
You know, those “low information” voters.
What’s even more troubling to me is the “misinformed voter.”
A 2006 Zogby poll said that only two in five Americans knew that we had three branches of government and could name them.
I saw one study that said 31 percent of voters are “misinformed” on issues.
For many, it doesn’t matter what someone said, it matters what they heard.
Everyone of course is entitled to their opinion. But when people want to turn fact into opinion it drives me nuts.
And that’s why, among other reasons, politicians don’t get into the nuts and bolts of policy.
That’s why nuance is avoided in political discourse.
Too many people wouldn’t know what the heck the candidates were talking about.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe we in the media don’t give people enough credit sometimes for really knowing the issues.
But the numbers don’t seem to support that.

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