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Monthly Archives: September 2012

3 days until…a “Debate”

In a little more than 72 hours President Obama and Governor Romney will begin the first presidential debate of the general election.  Although anticipation is high, if only to hopefully inject some much needed excitement into an otherwise dissatisfying public debate the past few weeks, I cannot help but feel that the product will resemble the usual soundbites and “visit my website” responses citizens have come to know and expect.  Let’s hope and pray that the format does not impede the form of the questions and responses to the point to that it disrupts an opportunity for a true point/counterpoint affair.  The American people deserve as much considering the divergent viewpoints of both candidates on a host of issues.


One Hundred Years Later

One century ago American voters participated in a presidential election containing four candidates with four competing worldviews with radical implications for the future of the country.  Although we may only speculate about whether voters at the time realized the significance of that election, we can certainly look back with awe and wonder at the combination of personalities, politics, and policies proposed by the potential winners.

Will the current election do the same?  Although the candidates vigorously argue that this election is crucial for answering the question of “which” road America will travel in the future, the average voter cannot help but feel that the sensationalistic rhetoric is empty.  Neither candidate (and there are only two, unfortunately) comes close to matching the force of personality that drove Teddy Roosevelt’s unexpected campaign for an unprecedented third term as president.  Although some claim that President Obama is an ideological heir to President Woodrow Wilson, whose visionary and idealistic internationalism planted the seeds for a post-WWII world (even though the modern UN leans more on a balance of power theory of stability), the president’s foreign policy has been part-idealistic and part-pragmatist.

The bifurcation of the Republican Party–due to the desire of some voters for the party to be more progressive–had drastic consequences for the future of the party and American politics and we may be witnessing some of the lasting effects today: the financial wing of the party continues to clash with the Tea Party and middle class elements asking more from their leaders than simple maintenance of the status quo (see, e.g., Governor Romney’s Jekyll and Hyde act in order to meet the needs of both while hopelessly failing to satisfy either completely).  And there is no candidate (or movement) to match the remarkable showing of the fourth-party candidate (Eugene Debs), who represented a budding crop of Socialist progressives.  Debs’ connection to voters, coupled with the forceful executive personalities of TR and Wilson, laid the groundwork for Roosevelt’s cousin (FDR) to radically alter the approach of the federal government–especially the executive–to nationwide problems.  Indeed, the 1912 election forever altered the political landscape in America.