Debate Tiffs and Fiscal Cliffs


courtesy of Polly Bruce ’13

courtesy of Polly Bruce ’13

There is a distinct difference between the recent Presidential campaign and the one of 2008. Four years ago, then Senator Obama and Senator McCain had the usual pre-election petty drama, but somehow, everything seemed a whole lot less negative. Maybe that is because Mr. Obama’s speeches were based on themes like hope and change, and not big bird or his opponent’s taxes. Mr. Obama’s energy and the emotion he evoked in his speeches in 2008 arguably earned him the presidency. And his campaign, most importantly, was positive.

Governor Mitt Romney, too, based his campaign on his opponent’s flaws and perceived missteps. Look what he didn’t do. Look what he is isn’t doing. Quite frankly, I got a little sick of watching the derogatory, color-turned-black-and-white ads, with the serious, deep voice, promising that if you vote for the other candidate, the world will spontaneously combust.

The goal of the past candidates, and both were guilty, was not unifying the nation, and fixing what is broken (and a lot is broken). Their goal was not showing what they can do. Their goal: disqualifying the other candidate. By playing with the fear of Americans, President Obama and Governor Romney’s campaigns were almost exclusively negative. What you say, and how you say it, is important. In my opinion, there is no instance where the effect of writing is so widespread and imminent as it is in a political speech. A truly great speech resonates with Americans. This past election however, although we saw some great speeches, I am not sure I like what was resonating.

Watching the Presidential debates, especially the second one, I was struck by the immaturity both candidates displayed. They were literally inches away from the other’s face, circling each other and fighting like two elementary school boys. While I was watching them whining about how much time the other one received, and “It’s not faiiirr, Candy!” I got a little worried about the future of our country. Do I, as an American, want a President who cannot be polite? It was troubling, especially, watching both Obama and Romney lose their composure so easily and quickly, when there is an international foreign affairs crisis looming around every corner.

However, they are both competent. In my opinion, it was a pretty even match. Maybe I am a little too optimistic, but both of these men are intelligent, articulate, and proficient. Perhaps therein lies the problem. Four years ago, Obama was miles ahead of McCain in terms of rhetoric and speech-making. Obama managed to rally his voters into an almost revolutionary fervor after one of his carefully crafted speeches. This past year, however, both candidates were surprisingly adept in the writing and delivery of their speeches. The delivery and style of what the candidates were saying is truly impressive. It was the content and tone that worries me.

Our supposed impending doom on the edge of the “fiscal cliff”  is the ultimate culmination of the extreme lack of bipartisanship, with an eye toward fixing what is broken in the House of Representatives, Senate, and Executive branches. It is sickening, really, that while across the world we are negotiating peace deals with Syria and other nations to prevent the loss of innocent life, we can’t do something we learn in the first grade: negotiate. Both sides are so entrenched in their views, with their hands over their ears, eyes shut, yelling the alphabet as loud as they can, that they literally are going to pull the rug out from under our economy. It’s laughable, really, how far apart each side is, and how far apart they remain. The competitive and overall negative process that was the presidential election is proof that maybe the best thing for our country would be to jump off this cliff, holding hands or not, and maybe be able to at least look each other in the eyes, once the dust clears.

 – Madeline Pillari, Co-News Editor