The first time I watched a presidential debate as a young adult, I was surprised by what a far cry it was from my middle school debate class—and not in a good way. I saw almost nothing of what I'd learned about constructing a valid argument, forming a refutation, cross-examination or any other debate skill on the presidential debate stage, and I was confused. Why did I have to learn those rules and guidelines if the people competing for the highest office in the nation didn't even use them in a nationally televised debate?
That was my impression during the "normal" era of politics. This week's presidential debate dropped the bar so low we might as well call it six feet under. I'm not sure if we hit rock bottom, but it feels like we're darn close.
My two teens watched the presidential debate with me. Normally, I would have grabbed this opportunity to discuss with them the issues presented to the candidates, point out the ways politicians use language to make their policies sound good, and how they frame things to make their opponents' policies look bad. I would have walked them through an analysis of the debate, probably lamenting the lack of formal debate practices—that's nothing new—but still discussing the nuances of what made each candidate's performance weaker or stronger. I wouldn't have tried to steer their opinions of the candidates one way or the other, but allowed them to evaluate on their own.
This debate offered no such opportunities. It was a train wreck, and there's no getting around the fact that it was a train wreck because the President of the United States made it one.
And it saddens me as much as it enrages me. I want my children to be able to respect the president. Even if they disagree with his policies, even if they think he's in the wrong on various issues, I want them to be able to respect the leader of our country as a leader.
But they can't. I can't. And that sucks.
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The recent passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg not only marked the end of an illustrious life of service to law and country, but the beginning of an unprecedented judicial nomination process. While Ginsburg's spot on the Supreme Court sits open, politicians and regular Americans alike argue over whether or not it should be filled immediately, basing their arguments on past practices and partisan points.
When a Supreme Court vacancy came up in February of 2016, nine months before the election, Senate Republicans led by Mitch McConnell refused to even take up a hearing to consider President Obama's pick for the seat, arguing that it was an election year and the people should have a say in who that seat goes to.
Four years later, a mere six weeks before the election, that reasoning has gone out the window as Senate Republicans race to get a nominee pushed through the approval process prior to election day. Now, they claim, because the Senate majority and President are of the same party, it makes sense to proceed with the nomination.
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If there's anything Americans need right now, it's a good laugh. In these divided times, if there is anyone who can provide one, it's "Weird Al" Yankovic.
The good news is he's back with a video that's a rare foray into American politics. Yankovic has avoided the topic throughout his career, although he did some non-partisan lampooning of the 2016 presidential debates with "Bad Hombres, Nasty Women."
In 2015, he told the Washington Times that he stays away from "sensitive" issues like "political topics. "And I don't want to divide my fan base if I can help it," he said.
"The other reason I don't do a lot of political humor is it dates pretty poorly," Yankovic said. "Things that are topical in the political arena this week would be old news a month from now, so that's probably not the kind of thing I want to have as part of my catalog."
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