The Debate

I don’t have a TV, but I really wanted to inform myself regarding the upcoming election.  The debate was tonight, and I am happy to say that this country is still open enough that there are nonalcoholic noncommercial venues that would allow me to experience the debate in the company of others – even as an unknown.  I had managed to do some laundry (including the sleeping bag) with hot water in the bathtub.  The rain provided the extra rinse cycle, and everything pretty much eventually dried when the sun came out.  Almost dry, anyway.  Like “it started to sprinkle outside” dry.

I found an apartment complex that had a TV in the lobby, and the notice said “If you want, bring something to eat or drink to share and watch the debate.”  So, I showed up, and we ended up watching it in someone’s apartment.  We were about 15 – a pretty diverse group,

and we shared cookies and nuts, and some nonalcoholic drinks.  I brought my little water boiler and some coffee and creamer.

I thought the debate covered some pretty basic areas, and both candidates had points to offer.

The debate mostly focused on domestic issues, as opposed to social issues, or international issues.  The basic areas that were covered were:

1) environmental issues

2) jobs

3) importance of family

4) immigration reform

5) women’s rights

6) guns

7) taxes

8) national security

The areas where I think both candidates needed improvement on their approach and understanding of problems were:  jobs and immigration reform.

There is always going to be a class of people who are undocumented in this country.  They provide a service.  They also provide an interesting perspective on living in the context of minimal government because of their lifestyle.  The government that they do experience is often oppressive, and sometimes in the form of gangs.  For a large part, it is a relatively miserable existence, and the idea that people would self-deport risking their family lives if conditions were made miserable enough for them, is not humane.  There needs to be a path to citizenship for these people – not an immediate one, but a process of integration over time.  Their children need to experience the full opportunities of every child in this country if they want these opportunities.

As far as jobs go, I think that part of the solution to the job crisis in the long-term, is to have people in all sectors of the economy.  Instead of focusing only on the top sector – engineering, medical, educated jobs, there needs to be excellence from the bottom up – sewing jobs, building jobs, cleaning jobs, cooking jobs.  The jobs should be good for the environment, and good for the health of communities.  Until this country can do its own grunt work, it will never have the resources to be truly competitive in a long-term way in an evolving world market.  I don’t think the solution is to tell other countries what the economic rules are.

The U.S. excels at flexible market places where economies can shift rapidly to meet needs, and at innovation.  Both are consequences of the amount of freedom that one has in this country.  It does poorly in areas like waste and fitness, areas that the undocumented population excel in, interestingly enough.

Mostly, I was happy about the accessibility and openness of the political process.  Anyone on the street should be able to come in and discuss politics in the context of an election.  No one should be excluded just because they don’t drink, or don’t have money, or don’t know people in the area.

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