The back-to-back debate format on ABC last evening showcased the great differences between the batch of Republican candidates and the four Democrats. As she side-stepped the question asked of her, Hillary Clinton said that it was clear that there was a great difference between the four Democrats and the Republicans on that stage. Barack Obama, similarly side-stepping, agreed with her, saying that 'fear-tactics' are not what this election is all about.
Gaud, what an array of Republicans were assembled on that stage last night, white men who want Americans to put them in to the Oval Office after 8 years of George Bush. Do they really believe that Americans are dumb enough to do it all over again! One would hope the 'third time is the charm' would be on the minds of the electorate this year.
I watched last night with two dozen other Toledo folks gathered at a potluck, people who barely listened to the first set of people on the tube. They munched away on the pot-luck foods and had their own private conversations while the GOP actors babbled on. In fact, the TV was muted for most of their performance, and no one asked to have the volume turned up. These folks knew the script and were tired of it. Fear, fear, and fear. It's not a tremendously complex scenario. A re-run of Jaws would have elicited more interest.
The room became absolutely still when the first Democrat bounded onto the stage. "Shush, shush!" they called. And, for the next hour and a half, the assembled group sat in silence, absorbing every word that was uttered. A woman sat on the piano bench, two others on the fireplace hearth. Several were on the floor, others stood in the back.
The people hungered for intelligent ideas and fresh ways to address the enormous issues facing our nation; they were not disappointed. I looked around during this time at the people gathered in this room and saw on these faces the hunger for new possibilities as they studied these four candidates. Here were intelligent people who have been beaten-down for the past seven years by the blunders and lies of the Bush/Cheney administration. People who expected that our nation would continue to be the beacon of democracy and hope, a model for the rest of the world. Rather, their dream became a nightmare, a long and bloody scene of war, torture, lies, and shame. The folks last night were a beaten-down and terribly disappointed group of American citizens, many ashamed of what our nation had become.
Yet, for these 90 minutes, hope for better leadership excited these men and women as their thoughts turned to, as Dickens wrote, 'Christmas future.' As Scrooge stood in that dark and cold cemetery and was told of a new life and new possibilities in the future, so too these folks dreamed of better times ahead.
Surprisingly, at the conclusion of the debate, we were handed an evaluation form to rank the candidates on their performance in ten categories. The host and hostess clearly took this evening seriously as did their guests. We sat in silence ranking the candidates on foreign affairs, taxes, education, national defense, health care and other important issues.
It was a serious night, but an enriching one as well. I think it was important for each of us to experience that there were other Americans in other living rooms across the state and nation who also took to heart what they saw and heard that evening. Serious people, serious issues. How refreshing. How hopeful.