Over the weekend I was asked to be a judge for “Dancing With The Carolina Stars” here in South Carolina. I am not a dance teacher, or even a professional dancer, and yet I was placed on a panel with two professionals – including Tony Dovolani from the television show. When my time for introductory remarks came during this televised event, I said “many of you are probably wondering why a political talk radio host is a judge for a dance competition, well, here’s the answer: we felt like the current election is proof that you don’t have to be particularly qualified to hold a position of power, so here I am!” The crowd roared its approval and my fellow judges were in stitches.
I’m not a comedian, so the joke wasn’t made successful by any charm of mine. It was funny for the same reason any joke is funny: it contained an element of truth. Americans have an instinctive understanding that the two major party candidates aren’t in this because they have a burning desire to serve the nation, but because they have a personal aspiration to power. It’s not a lack of intelligence or fame that makes these two candidates particularly unappealing to most Americans; it is their lack of shame that disturbs most voters.
All elections have twists, turns, and cheap-shots, but the candidates normally compete on the level of ideas as well. In this campaign, we have heard very little about the very serious problems facing America, and too much about the candidates’ opinions of one another. Instead of having a substantive conservation about our crushing $20 trillion national debt, stagnant economy, feckless foreign policy, and loss of religious liberty, we are analyzing the candidates’ Tweets and talking about which one said worse things about women of whom they or their spouse took advantage.
Both candidates’ electoral strategy can be summed-up by the old axiom “war does not determine who is right, but who is left.” Donald and Hillary are running against one another more than they’re running for president. They are simply trying to taint the other candidate enough to run out the electoral clock so that they can declare victory, however cynically won. This campaign, not to mention the debates, is not befitting a great nation.
If the presidential debates had the style and substance of the vice-presidential debate last week, the country would be the better for it. Ideas do matter, and this campaign isn’t about them. The combination of celebrity candidates and a salacious media has ensured that Americans are being left out of a campaign that’s supposedly about their future.