By now I’m sure you’ve had the time to digest and discern the October 3rd Presidential debate. Whether you’ve thought about it on your own or were forced to think about it due to the endless media coverage it received, there’s a good chance that your reactions from the debate may have been along the lines of, “Wow, Mitt Romney looks energized!” Or, “Mitt Romney actually looks like a viable candidate.” Or maybe it was, “You know what? Mitt Romney might have actually won this thing.”
I like to give credit where credit’s due. Mr. Romney did look energized. After all, he didn’t have to be a candidate and the leader of the free world at the same time. I also might have to agree that he looked more like a real candidate than he has as of late – not too difficult a task considering the past couple of months of his campaign. And while I can understand how some may have scored one in the victory column for the former Massachusetts Governor that night, I am not one of them.
The thing about President Obama is that we’re used to him giving the speech that brings us to our feet. We’ve become accustomed to him being the coolest guy on the stage. We’re used to him being all about style. I mean have you heard the man sing “Sweet Home Chicago.” But as I reflected on the debate the question became, is that what we should be looking for?
A Presidential debate at its simplest form is a spoken exchange of ideas, policies, and visions for the country. It’s about who has the best plan for our country and who will give us that plan in its purest, most honest form. If those are the criteria by which we judge the outcome of a debate, President Obama won by way of knockout.
The President laid out his plan in a clear, methodical way, talking policy like the seasoned incumbent he is. He talked about averting a global depression, about saving the ailing automobile industry, about fixing our broken healthcare system. He laid out a real plan. A plan that will help the middle class thrive. A plan that will bring down our deficit. A plan that will help move the country forward.
What did Mitt Romney do? Well, let’s just say that the fact checkers haven’t had a day off in over a week. Now, I won’t go into some of the falsities and half-truths Mr. Romney gave the American people that night because quite frankly, that’s not the point.
The point is that when we take out the political theatre and spin, the outcome of a particular event fundamentally changes. I’m not saying that those things aren’t important – they do have a role to play in our world. What I am saying is that when we separate the substance from the style, we develop a much different perspective of that world around us. I encourage you to do that for the upcoming Presidential debate.
I encourage you to remove the theatre and politicized style. I fully expect President Obama to take a page out of Vice President Joe Biden’s book and take an offensive stand against the plans that the Romney/Ryan ticket has for this country. I encourage you to actively listen to President Obama as he demonstrates how this administration’s policies are working and how the policies of a Romney/Ryan administration would take us back to the very same ideas that got our country into this mess.
Most importantly, I encourage you to listen WHAT President Obama and Mitt Romney are saying rather than to HOW they are saying it. I encourage you to do this because at the end this campaign, we will be left only with the substance of what was said. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be around when the substance of what Romney and Ryan are selling is here to stay.
Dallas S. Jones is the President/CEO of Elite Change, Inc. a public affairs and political consulting firm with offices in Houston, Dallas, Baton Rouge, and Washington, DC. He resides in the 3rd Ward community with his wife Angela Lopez Jones.