By Patrick F. Cannon
I took a quick look to see how many of my fellow Americans have been watching the so-called debates featuring the interesting people who want to be the Democratic Party standard-bearer to rid the country of Donald Trump, whose presidency has given heart to the descendants of James Buchanan.
On average, the total seems to be about 6.5 million. Coincidentally, this seems to be the number of journalists, consultants, pundits and bloggers whose jobs and self-esteem are closely tied to the election cycle. I have done an informal survey of my friends, and found none who would admit to watching them. Nor have I. Frankly, I see no connection between success in these debates and the ability to be an effective President of these United States.
The debates are a product of the television age, and are really an offshoot of the 1960 debates between John Kennedy and Richard Nixon. These gentlemen were already the chosen candidates of their parties. Now, the debates begin the year before the actual election as part of the ridiculous primary process that separates the losers from the winners, or hopes to.
Each of the parties has its own formula for deciding which candidates may appear on the stage, which has little to do with their actual competence. All of this is supported by an army of political lifers, who have no political principles themselves, but whose services are available to the highest bidder. You shouldn’t be surprised to discover that some of them have worked for candidates of both parties.
You should also not be surprised to discover that the reason candidates need to raise so much money isn’t just the cost of television, internet and radio ads – although this is considerable – but the cost of hiring professionals at all levels to actually run their campaigns. A subset of this group of happy, but cynical, warriors are the men and women who prepare their candidates for the debates.
For the early debates, when the stage is full side to side, debate consultants for candidate X will only research the most likely opponents. What did he or she say or do 30 years ago that no longer passes the PC litmus test? Then, when candidate X is asked to answer a question on, say, health care, he can segue after his non answer to casually mentioning that candidate Y has never owned a dog. Or, if she did own a dog, did it die under mysterious circumstances?
As the candidates are winnowed out over time by either not having a sufficient showing in the polls, or the inability to raise cash, the debate consultants can sharpen their focus. They dig deeper, often succeeding in finding an associate of candidate Y who suddenly remembers that she once claimed to be direct descendant of Chief Sitting Bull, or perhaps Florence Nightingale. When these turn out to have been exaggerations designed to get the candidate into law or nursing school, we have a “gotcha” moment. They then disclose that her most famous actual relative was Bonnie Parker.
Despite the fact that the candidates this year are members of the same Democratic Party, they act more like mortal enemies. The Republicans have no such problem. Having sold their souls to the devil, they are marching lock step into disgrace. There are now two Democratic parties – the Social Democrats of Biden, et al; and the Democratic Socialists of Bernie Sanders and his followers, the Children’s Crusaders. Isn’t it time to form a new party from the moderates who have more in common with each other than with the lunatic fringes of their own parties?
Perhaps an idle dream. One thing for sure – the hired guns would have no problem espousing whatever programs the candidates think the voters think they want. Or just the opposite. Whatever.
Copyright 2020, Patrick F. Cannon