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Unpresidential Performances: Debates, WWE or Clownshow? (EP.269)
2nd October 2020 • Take 10 with Will Luden • Will Luden
00:00:00 00:07:36

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As the most powerful person on the planet, the President of the United States is often referred to as the leader of the Free World. Either Donald Trump will continue in that role, or Joe Biden will step into the role. 

That is the subject of today’s 10-minute episode. 


Neither candidate came across as anything like Presidential, much less like the leader of the Free World. I have heard reactions ranging from “Clownshow” to “World Wrestling Entertainment”, including “Embarrassing”, “Kanye was the winner” and “The US lost.” The most telling reaction from several sources was, “After that performance, just don’t vote.”

I agree that America lost, but likely for a different reason that the others with this reaction. The vital discussion of today’s key issues is what we as Americans lost. 

The first and most important issue is how we choose our leaders. The two-party system is no longer producing leaders capable of engaging in stimulating discussions like the Lincoln/Douglas live and only in person debates, or intelligent, easy-to-follow and highly civil faceoffs like the one between Kennedy and Nixon–the first of the televised debates. Unlike today, the first TV debate setting was simple; bare stage, a moderator with a lectern, and the candidates in separate chairs. And a pleasant, enlightening discussion. If we want a return to that modus operandi, that MO, it is up to us as voters to get the job done. The candidates and their parties are playing to us, and playing up to what they think we want. And to a great extent, they are right. If we want better candidates and better office holders, we need to be better voters. And we need a very different voting process–more on that later in this episode.

Let’s lift some representative issues from a recent episode, 2020 Presidential Voting Guide: Biden v Trump (EP.266), to remind us of some of the important issues, and help erase the memory of that first debate.

“If you believe that the Republic form of government laid out in the Constitution is the right choice, vote for Trump.If you believe that we should abandon the Electoral College, a fundamental part of the Republic format, then vote for Biden. In other words, if you want a national popular vote to replace the College, vote for Biden.

If you believe the New York Times Pulitzer Prize winning work on the 1619 project was correct in saying the year 1619 represents the real founding and legacy of America, vote for Biden.If you believe the view that the real founding occurred in 1776, with documents that Jefferson called, “A silver frame (Constitution), around a document of gold.” (Declaration), vote for Trump. 

If you believe that we should have open borders with amnesty for all, vote for Biden.If you believe that America should have secure borders with a wide, but controlled, gate, then vote for Trump.

If you support school choice, vote for Trump.If you believe that increased funding for traditional public schools is the answer to the issues in K-12 education, vote for Biden

If you believe that government should be the resource of first choice, then vote for Biden.If you believe the individual should be the resource of first choice, vote for Trump.

I leave it to you to do your own pick’em on issues that are important to you, e.g., climate change, abortion, Middle East politics and peace, etc. The key is to separate the issues from the personalities. I am not saying that personalities are unimportant; I am encouraging all of us to have a clear understanding of the issues as well as our take on the candidates themselves.

Now let’s get to the needed–desperately needed–different voting process. Instead of the current two-party system that rewards bash fests like the first debate and punishes reformers–if indeed a reformer can manage to get elected–here are the two fixes. And I mean fixes, i.e., Top 5 Nonpartisan Primaries and Ranked Choice Voting. We currently have a system of government in which the two parties cater to their bases. There are few competitive elections. Independents and third-party candidates have virtually no chance to be elected. Most elections are dominated by negative campaigning. There are few remaining moderates. Government is polarized. Officials of the two parties will not work together to get things accomplished. The concept of having open nonpartisan primaries with the Top 5 candidates moving to a final election that will be decided by Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) solves most of these issues. With this system, we should have more candidates, higher turnout, more moderation in campaigning and governing, less control by big money interests, and representatives who are willing to govern in a bipartisan or nonpartisan manner, so that government stops being paralyzed. This type of election reform could bring about major positive changes. 

I am a believer in both Top Five (nonpartisan) Primaries, and Ranked Choice Voting. Here are two very helpful resources. I urge you to go to both to get more information.

  1. Book. “The Politics Industry”: How Political Innovation Can Break Partisan Gridlock and Save Our Democracy Hardcover – June 23, 2020 by Katherine M. Gehl, Michael E. Porter.
  2. Related website.

Tell me what you believe. I and many others want to know. 

As always, whatever you do, do it in love. Without love, anything we do is empty.


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Will Luden, coming to you from 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.