Podcast: The Problem With Presidential Debates and How We Can Fix It


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The Problem with Presidential Debates and How We Can Fix It

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Hello, Emily Allison coming at you from my blog, Good Stewards, a community of people dedicated to being good stewards of their health, lives, and world. Today I want to speak from my personal experience in the political field and talk about something extremely important and possibly completely unknown to anyone who doesn’t work directly in politics. 


As I’m recording this podcast, the first presidential debate between President Donald Trump and Joe Biden is taking place. I don’t think I’ve missed a presidential debate since 4th grade, but today, for now, I couldn’t watch it. I couldn’t watch it because I know exactly what’s going to happen. I know there will be propaganda and lies from the left, infuriating political bias from the moderators, and ridiculous and nonsensical biased commentating from just about every news outlet on TV. No thank you. In short, I don’t see what I just described as a debate. I see it as just another mode of biased propaganda being shoved down the throats of the American people and standing in the way of truth and free thinking on behalf of the voters and justice and integrity for the American political system as a whole. 


When I was in college and beyond, I worked quite extensively in politics. I worked as a full time staffer on a high profile congressional campaign and learned from the best of Minnesota’s political campaign staff. I went on to manage several statewide campaigns that ended in victory, I’ve interned for some of the best in high profile races and worked for an assortment of candidates and policy makers in various aspects of the political field, from fundraising, to PR, to policy. Let’s just say, after all my hands on experience in the world of campaigning and politics I get how it works. And it’s important that you do as well.


Allow me to shed some light on what information is packaged and put in front of you and the why behind it. My hope is that you are able to use this insight to better understand the headlines and antics of American politics and in turn be able to think critically and make informed, educated decisions for the betterment of your life, your family, and our country. 


In a nutshell, people fall into three categories when it comes to politics. It doesn’t matter if they’re the candidate running for office, the journalist trying to make the front page, the campaign manager, the intern that stuffs envelopes, the news anchor you watch on TV, or your neighbor with the campaign signs outside their house, just about everyone can be placed in one of these three categories:


The first category: The Useful Idiots


This category could also be called “the Headliners”. It is reserved for anyone who listens to a soundbite, scans a news article, or see’s a headline on social media and is immediately swayed in that particular direction. The sad reality is, most people are not able to think for themselves. They think very little about a given topic until a headline shows up enough times on their TV or facebook news feed and then they let that headline do their thinking for them. Their beliefs are heavily reinforced by their facebook friends sharing the same headlines and carefully packaged talking points that social media and news places before them. These people have an insatiable desire to wave the banner of popular social causes that everyone else they know agrees with and supports, but they are painfully uneducated on that topic other than, again, the headlines that made them aware of it to begin with. They have little to no personal experience that gives them honest insight, they aren’t professionally educated on the topic, and any education or experience they do have they can only process the way the headlines have told them to. An easy tell tale sign of the useful idiots category, is whenever a topic arises, they can’t have honest debate about facts, but they turn to their favorite talking point of all: “well my…. Fill in the blank.” “My friend works at a hospital and she said x, y, z.” “My cousin married a black person and their experience is x, y, z.” They think simply because they got word from someone they know about that person’s most likely also uneducated stance, they are thoroughly informed. Now I’m not saying listening to others experiences can’t be helpful and isn’t important, but if we can’t think critically about facts and we don’t realize that the person who shares their experience with us is also most likely interpreting the events that happen around them through a biased and most likely clueless lens, then we probably aren’t in a position to truly say what is and what isn’t. They trust organizations simply because those organizations exist and do not research or understand the behind the scenes workings of organizations and political groups in society. An easy rhyme to remember this group by is this: They simply trust and obey whatever comes their way. This people group is extremely vulnerable to be manipulated and used by organizations and politicians in order to gain political clout, attention, and power. 


The second group is: The Liars.

This group is exactly as it sounds. Many people, especially in campaign positions, media, PR & marketing, and any position of power that can be taken away, will do and say anything to get the outcome they desire. Anyone in marketing knows how to influence the thoughts and emotions inside people that will in turn influence their outward actions. On a campaign, you know the demographics of the area you are running in. For example, You know if there is a rising demographic of soccer moms between the ages of 30 and 35. You know that you need their votes to win. So you conduct studies and find out what issues matter to them and what buzz words are going to resonate and appeal to them. You also say whatever you have to about your opponent that you know will turn your target demographic away from them. You may also know that there is a nursing home in your district. You find that there aren’t enough votes in the elderly population to sway anything so you weigh the votes you have vs the votes you don’t and you realize you don’t need the elderly vote. So you don’t worry about them. You don’t pay attention to their problems and you don’t fight for policies on their behalf. You do what will help you win, and that’s all that matters. It’s not about truth. It’s not about believing in the cause and getting others to join the fight with you. It’s about manipulating and using certain people groups to get what you want, and not wasting any time with anyone or anything that doesn’t benefit you. The end goal may be truly believing you know what’s best, or it may be a power hungry and corrupt individual who will stop at nothing to keep their position of power and influence. Either way, the desired outcome justifies whatever means necessary. You can see with this kind of thinking how lying, confiscating and throwing away ballots for your opponent, and twisting the facts to your advantage or your opponents demise are not so unthinkable afterall. This type of person or group is usually the ones creating political divide and promoting emotionally charged issues. Their followers often adapt extreme mob mentality, and they can easily manipulate the clueless category we discussed previously. 


The last category: This is one that although rare, I believe to be by far the most powerful, and therefore the most detrimental and threatening to the first two categories. So threatening that the power hungry and corrupt must unite and make calculated and flagrant assaults on the minds of the people in order to discredit anyone or anything that could come from this approach: The category is: The Truth. It sounds too simple, but it’s the most powerful thing in the world. What is true? Some politicians aren’t in politics for the power or money or their own personal pride. Some are truly there to be what politicians in the American framework of government are supposed to be: civil servants (this means they already have a career and job that they have built and they are taking a temporary break from it in order to serve the people in their communities, and they will resume their career once their political service has ended.) These people respect and honor the civilian led government that the founding fathers created and they are serving out of a genuine desire to improve issues in their communities. They are not in office to further their own political, financial, and career gain, but to represent the real needs and find real solutions for the people they serve. The people in these districts should see concrete, real change in problem areas. They should have a better life because of their political representative. 


The people in the truth category do not need to lie or twist facts. They believe the stances they are advocating for are right and that their solutions will help people. They don’t need to pretend to be or believe something they’re not. They only need to put out the true, honest facts in front of the american people, so that their voters can in turn make educated decisions. 


The only way to stop the truth is to stop the truth from getting out at all costs, to discredit the source of the truth (I.e the candidate or voters) in the eyes of the people so that if it does get out the people won’t believe it, and to demonize and viciously attack anyone who believes the truth so as to discourage others from being open minded to any narrative other than the one the liars want them to believe. In short, it is to manipulate, lie, and ultimately dismantle the American people’s ability to think for themselves. The Liars cannot risk laying out the facts and letting the American people come to any conclusion on their own. Votes must be controlled, which means so do the emotions and minds of the voters. 


But here’s what I believe from my experience with campaigns and voters:

The American people are not stupid. They want to be fiercely independent, they want to be positively involved in their country and their world, they want to be educated, and they have an inherent desire for just and noble causes. Unfortunately, I think the liars know this too. So they have become very skilled at manipulating these noble traits and have relentlessly used the American people for their own gain, and they have done it at great harm to our country and world.


So back to why I’m not watching the debate: Simply, I don’t respect what the political process in America has turned into. An educated debate is two honest people talking about real issues and real solutions based on facts. Not political rhetoric being thrown around to manipulate the minds of useful idiots. Everyone watching this debate has been, by the Mainstream media’s best collective efforts, conditioned to hate Donald Trump. Most Americans don’t know his policies, they don’t know what his administration has accomplished for human trafficking, healthcare, taxes, the economy, immigration, minorities, the list goes on and on and the debate is not set up to be a forum to effectively communicate facts and policy. It’s not an educated debate. It’s a game! It’s all a political game! And until the American people realize it, they’re controlled by it.


Each American needs to truly ask themselves what kind of a world they want to live in. Do you want to be manipulated and lied to and controlled for some corrupt politicians political gain? Seriously, do you? Do you want to see more hatred and divide? Do you want partisan politics to stand in the way of real reform on important issues? 


Or do you want an America where educated debate and freedom of information is valued and respected. Do you want to learn why others believe what they believe and discern what is true and right based on your faith and your values? Do you want to be able to have open, honest conversations about important issues? Do you want to not just fight for one talking point against another but actually learn about the issue being debated and walk away from social media or a personal conversation with more facts to consider and more elements to think about? Do you want to elect politicians and send them to our capitals and city councils just so they can fight one another and keep repeating whatever rhetoric they think will help them win their next re-election and aid in their future political career advances? Or do you want politicians to come together as a representation of this country- diverse people with various experiences, backgrounds, and needs that can find common ground on what they DO believe in and actually work together to improve their country and world?


So ask yourself these questions. Honestly ask yourself which category you fall into. How much do you really know about a given issue? At what point in the narrative do you decide your stance and give your opinion? Do you take a side immediately once you see the headlines or do wait to do research, pray, ask for wisdom, learn, and wait for the final facts and narrative to emerge? Are you truly trying to discover the truth or does cultural pressure and whatever is popular affect your decision making ability? Is your source a biased political headline or actual honest research and critical thinking based on facts? Do you research and learn about organizations and causes before you support them and advance their narrative? Are you actually open to learning the truth or do you cling to whatever you want and already believe to be true? Do you feel threatened and angry at anyone who disagrees or do you welcome information and expanding your knowledge? Do you have feelings of anger and bitterness towards people on the opposite side of politics from you? Do you believe the headlines without thinking and playing the devil’s advocate? Are quick to hear the other side, are you SLOW to speak, SLOW to anger or do you react with a knee jerk reaction based on emotion?


It’s not easy to take an honest look at ourselves and recognize and admit that we may be in error. But as Christians, we are commanded to be truth seekers. We are commanded to be sober minded and to think rightly about the world around us. As Christains, we should first and foremost be concerned with displaying Christ’s attributes, no matter what side of the issue we fall on. We are not to bow to culture over kingdom. We are to adapt Christ’s heart and mindset, not popular organizations, not our facebook friends, not anything else.  And we are commanded to be on guard against the schemes of the devil. The devil roams around like a lion looking for someone to devour. He IS attacking the church. He IS attacking you, and it starts with your mind. Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. He preys on your mental and emotional weaknesses in order to lure you away from God’s ways. He offers the truth with a twist, and we must be very careful with what we accept as true and make sure we are constantly walking and realigning our hearts and minds with the Lord’s.


We will have to stand before God someday and give an account for every careless word we have spoken and every single thing we have done. From the words spoken to the content shared in our social media feed. This fact should transform the way we view, process, and proceed with the information available to us. I’m talking to myself first and foremost here. I need to do better too.


It’s your government friend. It’s our government, for the people by the people. People don’t have power unless we give it to them. Our minds cannot be controlled unless we allow them to. We have been blessed beyond imagination to be in this country and to have the power and opportunities we have to make a difference and spread Christ’s light in our families, our social media platforms, our neighborhoods and communities, and our country and world. We cannot take this gift from God lightley. We should proceed with sober commitment to be faithful with what God has entrusted to us. It starts with a heart aligned with him, seeking after His ways over anything else.


So where does this leave us? What can we do?


First, We can raise the standards and change the narrative. Stop supporting news outlets that distort truth and play biased partisan politics. Vote out the liars and the useful idiots and vote in those who are honest and on the side of truth. Call for higher standards, less bias, better quality and freedom of information, and take the time and effort to accurately educate yourself before giving your opinion. Set an example to others of how to have respectful political discourse and how to talk to and about people you disagree with. 


And lastly, We can pray. Ask for God to give you grace so that you may have eyes to see and ears to hear His truth in this world. Ask for the holy spirit to guide you and help you discern truth from Satan’s lies. Ask for a heart that loves God above culture or personal preference. Ask for strength to be obedient and open to His plans to use you right where he has you for His purposes.


Be blessed, be encouraged, and be a good steward of all of these gifts. 


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