“What the Debates Say About America” and How I Respond as an American

Dallas Caldwell, one of our contributors at the Red Dirt Chronicles, is my former boss. I was attending grad school when he accepted a position as the new headmaster where I was teaching. I always appreciated his ability to tell a story, but years later gained an appreciation for his ability to write and share his thoughts.

That’s why, when he writes about literature or something philosophical, I generally check it out. And tonight, I’m glad I did.

Dallas was sharing information on his Facebook about a post written by Kevin DeYoung over the presidential debates.  The quote was the full text of point number six from DeYoung’s analysis over the “13,000 Republican debates” and the public’s reaction to them.

He writes about the communication factor, the “horse race style” coverage, what American’s value in their candidates…but then negate, why negative attacks are vilified but work, the sin and values we’re willing to tolerate, and…our inconsistencies:

6. The debates over the past months, and the election in general, exposes a number of inconsistencies about Americans.

  • We want to be rich and want politicians who will promise to make us richer. But we don’t like our politicians themselves to be wealthy.
  • We want candidates to give straight answers and not dodge hard questions. But when they give specific answers to hard questions their answers will be ridiculed as dull or will be held against them.
  • We want our leaders to be super confident, super competent, and super intelligent. But we hate elites.
  • We want the president to be one of us and above us and unlike us at the same time.
  • We want someone to be an effective executive in the labyrinth of legislative, judicial, bureaucratic, military, and diplomatic tasks that face the modern President. But we also want him to be a complete outsider with no experience in how any of that works.
  • We want politicians unsullied by the real life tradeoffs, lobbyists, and interest groups of politics. But what they are like in the rest of life doesn’t really concern us. They can compromise in everything but politics.

As I worked down the bullet points a knot began to form in my stomach, then tighten, then wrench at my psyche – tugging as though it were in a man-of-war game for the core of how I consider information during a presidential campaign.

Yes, yes, yes. Check, check…cripes. Check again.

I finished the list, then did the only thing I knew to do.  I processed.  I processed this information that provided a moment of introspection by thinking it over a couple of times, sharing it with my husband and then? Sharing it with you.

Good luck with that.

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