It was billed as the debate that could decide the election the two candidates on one stage duking it out, displaying to the American people clear differences between republican and democrats, between policies, direction, vision of the choices we have for the next president of the United States of America; what we got as viewers, as voters was a moderator who couldn’t moderate, an audience who couldn’t respond beyond an opening clap at the introduction of the candidates according to “the rules” meant to ensure everyone could hear all of what they said. Translation the most boring debate in history with a sitting president who looked like he was pulling a Rick Perry don’t know whether he needs medication or needs to stop taking medication and a challenger who clearly changes what he says depending on where he is, and no, not along the same lines as being mindful of your audience, conscious of the steel workers present in one campaign stop or the farmers at another, but trying to rewrite his own campaign record. Now Romney has received a post-debate boost, people are bashing the president and his surrogates for dreaming up comebacks 5 days later not on the debate stage in the moment and the biggest thing to hold people’s attention was Romney’s plan to ax Big Bird. And we wonder why the nation is in trouble.

Despite knowing who had the better policies, who had a better handle on the truth, who I intended to vote for and still intend to give my vote to, I was drowned in minutia watching the debate. I didn’t care if they disrespected the moderator or the time limits; in fact there were many occasions when I just wanted the moderator to stop interrupting so the candidate talking could finish what they were trying to say. I didn’t care that it was a substantive debate where complicated, complex answers were to be expected; I did care that Chris Christie in his convention speech could better outline reasons for big unpopular cuts and why they had to happen than either person on the stage. I did care that I needed a calculator and several minutes between debate points to do the math on what they were presenting. It wasn’t that when asked about the role of government incumbent Obama talked about the transcontinental railroad or land grant colleges; I actually got where he was going with that, although I suspect I’m one of the few. The problem was neither candidate had clear concise answers. Yes Mitt Romney may have turned in a slightly better debate performance than he as in the past on speeches, campaign stops, but that isn’t saying much, and while it’s true the president turned in one of his poorest performances, you really did get to see the pitfalls of debating someone dubbed the Jell-O candidate. At least the president seemed befuddled by the person he met on stage, a completely different Romney than before; on the other hand with Romney it was reminiscent of the convention speeches. Sit back and count the lies, more veiled though they were, the spin and things that make you scratch your head and go hmmm. Example, the president talks about Romney’s 5 trillion dollar tax cut; Mitt Romney goes on to claim he doesn’t have one, the president says that’s been your campaign position for 13 or 18 months. Debate in its truest sense stops there on that subject to avoid everyone looking like children, although Obama would come back to that number repeatedly; worse was the fact checking session done by news outlets in the after debate discussion that called this mostly fiction. However is it truly fiction when you add up extending the Bush tax cuts for everyone, removing the payroll tax holiday that has been fought against at every turn, when you consider the Romney economic plan calls for a 20% tax reduction for the wealthiest of Americans; even more terrifying for our middle class, maybe just the latter is where our president got that number.

Next is the republican fiction about Medicare and the 716 billion dollars Obama supposedly took from current retirees to fund Obama care, their new and improved challenger asking how he could do that to people already in the system swearing his plan does nothing to current retirees in already receiving Medicare or fast approaching the age to do so, other than send them in need of medical attention when they get so much as a whiff of your future plans that is. Yet what president Obama did was to save, create, come up with that 716 billion dollars by eliminating existing waste in the Medicare program and funnel that into the Medicare trust fund  increasing it’s solvency by 8 years. As independent analysts stated, there are no dollars once marked Medicare that are now marked Obama care, something else; further the Ryan plan designed by the other half of the republican ticket, fully endorsed by candidate Romney would change things for people 54 and below. At 54 with roughly 11 years left until retirement is hardly the time to change benefits after people have paid into it nearly 25 years, nor can they drastically alter their plans to accommodate changes being made. Even at 40, the age Ryan touts as the younger generation, people have paid into the social security system on average half the time they are going to before retiring, perhaps less if they are forced to take retirement at 55 due to the toll manual labor has taken on their body. “Obama care” does none of that; instead it says to people like Warren Buffet no, we won’t pay for your prescription drugs, Warren buffet sized incomes will be asked to pay a little more for benefits.  Relatedly there is no panel deciding who gets coverage, what kind of coverage you get, 15 people with no medical training denying coverage to people; as the president said it is a panel whose job is to determine the best medical practices for hospitals, doctors, medical facilities and work to implement those practices, simple things like doctors washing their hands between patients, cleaning of interments like that famous stethoscope around your doctors neck has already shown to cut down on supper bugs and other hospital derived infections. These are the types of things the panel is meant to address; it’s not a “death panel” rationing care to older people, threatening life and quality thereof; continuing, if it ever were to become any sort of death panel it would be on republican’s the tea party’s watch in the name of cutting costs, saying to the obese person since you like cheeseburgers and soda so much, pay through the nose for your care, or since your health is a result of your lifestyle choices no more care for you.         

Talking about the national debt all Mitt Romney can come up with is cutting the subsidy to PBS, placating people assuring them he loves Big Bird, but what he said next was laughable, stating that he wasn’t going to borrow money from China to pay for it. To be clear we are not borrowing money from China to pay the fraction of one percent of total funding the government pays to keep Big Bird, the whole of PBS on the air. Much more likely we are borrowing money from China to fund huge oil subsidies, compensate for the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, and as the president pointed out giving the US military money, equipment it doesn’t even want, ask for, not to mention the creative way people in Mr. Romney’s tax bracket file their taxes. To be fair, he previously discussed the elimination of endowments for both art and humanities, doing away with loopholes and deductions in our tax code, yet not only are these drop in the bucket measures making no real fiscal difference, he has never named which deductions or loopholes he would end; however doing away with some of them will just possibly cover that 20% tax reduction he wants, not touching the debt at all. We are likely borrowing money from China to fund bank bail outs, housing bail outs, stimulus funds needed to keep the great recession from becoming a great depression, actions necessitated by the deregulation of the Bush years, deregulation supported by Mr. Romney; he even boldly stated on the debate stage he wanted to repeal parts of Dodd Frank (financial reform) he felt was hampering small business. But again he couldn’t name a single provision, part or piece he wanted to remove instead talking about we don’t need so much regulation strangling business. Once more in the interest of fairness do we need to go line by line through every regulation effecting business to make sure it’s needed, to make sure it’s not redundant, yes, and no, small businesses with single digit numbers of employees don’t need to be taxed at the individual rate of 33% they rather than the mega corporations should be taxed at the 20 something percent proposed. Continuing he went on to try and coin a new phrase to get lost in the campaign chatter, trickle down government, claiming this is what Obama wants a government so big everyone is dependent on it for something. Now political analysts, pundits like Rachel Maddow think he brought it out to confuse the issue from trickledown economics the failed republican economic plan of the last 3 decades; again the American people are smarter than that. As a matter of pure fact we are already all dependent on the government to get out mail through the postal service, to ensure the safety of our food, your bank account is federally insured up to so many thousand dollars, so that you can get that amount should something like a great depression happen and people suddenly start to withdraw all their money from institutions.  

Another pure fact, we like trickle down government, if by trickle down government you mean job retraining programs that help persons get employed, if you mean the payroll tax holiday that not only allowed that same person to get a job because their employer could hire workers but allowed them to keep it because they could afford them. We like trickle down government, if by trickle down government you mean the programs that helped keep people in their homes, make sure home mortgage documents are readable and lenders fully disclose risks so things like the housing bubble never happen again; we support “trickle down government” that will rein in Wall Street, if it means no more bail outs for corporate fat cats. And yes we appreciate trickle down government that means hard workers all their lives can now get food stamps so their children can eat while they look for work, while they participate in training for a new job when the economy ate their last one, if it keeps them in their pay by the week motel, God forbid could get them out of it. Further calling what the president has done trickle down government as if it were some sort of political cuss word akin to how so many perceive welfare, is like calling FDR’s depression era work programs trickle down government with the same distain; question, where would we be even today without those programs then? Never mentioned is why we require such a large government exemplified by the housing crisis, the bank crisis, the ensuing dry up of credit causing credit card companies to change limits, add fees along with banks on steady customers making payments, utilizing free checking, when government slacked off it’s job of providing reasonable protection for people, shady lending, shady mortgages, hidden fees for basic services was the result, president Obama’s birther issue highlighted the need for national uniformity of documents we already thought we had. Interestingly enough those who champion smaller government champion it when it involves giving more rights back to the states until we might as well have 50 different small countries rather than 50 states in the same country, if the smaller government gurus got their way. They champion it right up to some small town outlawing dancing, places telling you what kind of pants, even underwear you can wear, telling you, you can’t wear your PJ’s in public. Factions of the republican party are all for small government until it comes to whether or not you can have an abortion even if you are a rape/incest survivor, whether or not you can use birth control thus eliminating the need for an abortion at all. They say we should mind our own business as to other countries affairs regardless of if said result is Iran in possession of nuclear bombs but feel it their moral obligation to tell you who you can marry, who you can have sex with, how you can have sex (anti sodomy laws), whether you can masturbate behind the privacy of a bathroom door, in your own home, in your own bed, in your own shower.   

Ok president Obama fumbled the question on what he believes the role of government is; his record on the other hand clearly speaks to what he sees as its place in people’s lives and goes directly to why he talked about the transcontinental railroad and land grant colleges. He clearly views the role of government as that of enhancing opportunity for citizens and bettering the world around us all. The transcontinental railroad was the largest transportation project of its time and enabled not only travel but permanent settlement in every corner of the nation, provided jobs for people; other big government backed things that changed the course of lives, saw the advancement of technology include the US interstate highway system providing roads throughout all of our nation once the automobile took hold, NASA and the United States space program lead to things like the Hubble telescope giving us a clearer view of our universe, discovery of fossilized water droplets on Mars and the discovery of a brand new planet made entirely of diamond, information that with time could solve earth’s population troubles, mineral discoveries that could lead to better products, cleaner fuels. The internet we now so closely depend on began as a military project. Point being, these are things that could not have been done as successfully in the private sector solely by a hand full of rich people with money to throw away; government support not only provided legitimacy but resources to take our country to the next level. We enhance opportunities for people with things like government facilitated student loans, Pell grants, opening up necessary higher education to more people; also, part of government’s responsibility is to protect people’s ability to thrive, hints why things like Dodd Frank and readable mortgage documents are so important. They help people hold on to their hard earned money, they help people make smart decisions for themselves; there is a reason why generations before us fought for fair labor laws, why anti- discrimination laws are on the books, so that people can get jobs in the first place, be self-sufficient in the first place.

Yet there are still those who say people are used to this nanny state where the government provides everything food, housing, again with no thought to why; we live in such a nanny state, if that’s what you want to call giving assistance to the poor, destitute and needy vs. cupcake provisions and soda bans to combat obesity, because it has become harder and harder to actually provide for yourself. If you are one of the millions who had their job eaten by the great recession, you are likely out of luck getting a new one or holding on to it for any length of time because businesses won’t hire or want everything and the kitchen sink from applicants when the do hire, but Mitt Romney would have Americans believe said persons are just not willing to take responsibility for their lives all 47% of them. We live in such a “nanny state,” because even if you have a job, forget keeping your mortgage, it’s a challenge to furnish your basic needs, particularly if you work minimum wage, hints the food stamps and housing assistance suddenly going to so many, because the paycheck they receive doesn’t cut it as costs for basic food stuffs rises, the cost of gas to get to a job goes higher, utilities, rent climbs, while wages don’t. When we really decide we want people off these programs, when we really decide to do something about “the welfare, government dependency problem” in America we will start having serious discussions about living wages, and living wages for every job, we’ll start talking about the fair hiring practices we think we have in place that fall flat as the disenfranchised try to take care of themselves, we’ll do more than talk about training both as a supplement to higher education, government sponsored programs and the on the job training employers can and should give not only to individuals coming on board, but things they can do to make sure employees have the skills to move beyond minimum wage should they wish to and actually put some action behind words. Until then the “nanny state” remains and the alternative is starving children in the greatest country in the world, droves of homeless people beggars lining our streets. Funny the most illustrated and eloquent line on this issue didn’t come from the debate but from 2 comedians doing a mock debate for laughs; John Stewart said “Why is it if you take advantage of a tax break and you’re a corporation you’re a smart businessman but if you take advantage of something that you need not to be hungry, you’re a moocher? Why indeed.

Coming lastly to this whole claim Romney would work with those across the aisle to get things done, that that’s what he did as governor of Massachusetts; forget for a moment the contentious nature of the relationship had there, you can’t work across anything with people who think birth control is unnatural, who think we should return to the times of slavery because there were more 2 parent homes, who think giving all reproductive options to women regardless of their employers religious compunctions is an attack on religious freedom. But enter Rick Santorum, Michelle Bachman and the majority of the republican party respectively. You cannot bridge the gap between members of opposing parties when one member believes a woman’s body can somehow magically prevent pregnancy during rape, thus making only some rapes legitimate, abortion in such cases unnecessary and no woman in America wants such compromise. You can’t work across the aisle with people whose foreign policy consists of America minding its own business, denying an entire culture of people and insinuating we not only went to Libya to pilfer oil but that we should have taken it as some kind of payment for toppling a dictator, giving freedom to people less fortunate than us; by the way it being the strongest commodity for them to rebuild a demolished country with.  But those are exactly the positions of Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich and Donald Trump; two out of 3 individuals vying for leader of the free world during the primary season. You can’t work across anything with people who are willing to play chicken with the debt ceiling to “teach Washington a lesson,” “to change how Washington operates” knowing it will grind life for ordinary people to a halt, that it could and did lead to a US credit downgrade; you can’t have function with congressional members coming up with budgets rooted in fiction summed up by this phrase, cut enough of the government reduce deficit, move on to next item on to do list. But enter Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan, the latter of which sees himself as a budget guru even though those inside and outside of this say his numbers don’t add up. And this paragraph is why president Obama had my vote pre debate and will have my vote in November despite one lack luster debate performance.