One day I met up with my friend Tim “Turtle” Smith in the parking lot of a golf course. “Hey, come look at what I found yesterday when I was out deer hunting.” I looked in the bed of Turtle’s pickup and saw two sets of deer antlers intertwined. Tim said, “I cut these off the heads of two dead stags. They must have starved to death after their battle for which one would gain the prize doe. I guess it is a metaphor for the old saying, ‘Don’t lose your head over.…’ ” Tim is kind of a colloquial philosopher. We do not know what other stag defaulted to winning the mythical doe, but surely a wiser one was lying in wait.
For some reason my encounter with Turtle came to mind after observing the Presidential Debacle last Tuesday evening. If the goal of a leader is to have his or her constituents adopt and follow a particular vision, when it comes to debating, the leader may want to concentrate on setting out elements of the vision and not fall into the quagmire of ad hominem. President Trump and Former Vice President Biden surely both have a vision for America but they both kept their visions well disguised Tuesday.
Usually in a debate someone is declared the winner. However, in the Presidential Debacle of 29 September 2020 there was no winner but there were three losers: President Trump, Former Vice President Biden and the electorate. We learned what we already knew; the candidates hate one another and the national news media loves only itself. Where was what Socrates called for over two thousand years ago when he cautioned, “The unexamined life is not worth living”? And Joseph Campbell’s only unforgiveable sin, that is “to be unaware”, was committed by both candidates and the moderator repeatedly.
If Americans are the prize and leadership is the goal, I suggest our presidential candidates each eschew both mudslinging and mud wrestling and spend their time and ours setting forth their plans for our future and explaining cogently how their plan is superior to their opponent’s. We can decide for ourselves if we like a candidate. What we need is knowledge about which aspiring leader is truly inspiring and not merely exasperating. Of course, if Donnie and Joey continue to act like scuffling school boys, perhaps we will see both of their denouements via the ballot box and a contested election. Then someone else may end up with the prize as declared by a handful of unelected judges.