There has to be a better way for voters to pick political candidates than debates. Even Jell-O wrestling would be more helpful than listening to the programmed responses we get from debates.
It doesn't matter if it's the presidential candidates, the vice presidents or state and local officials. When they aren't outright lying, they talk in vague generalities meant to assure everyone, promise everything and say nothing to offend anyone. That's not a formula for creating an informed electorate.
Not that most people care about being informed. They don't want to be confused by the facts (should one accidentally slip into a debate) because they've already made up their minds. If Adolf Hitler headed the ticket, they'd vote for him and tout him as a fiscal conservative and job creator.
No less an expert on lying than Newt Gingrich stated with certainty during the primaries that Mitt Romney is a liar, but now Newt's throwing his considerable weight and expertise on family values behind Mitt. That's almost as reassuring as Paul Ryan declaring the GOP campaign won't be deterred by fact-checkers.
If we are going to be subjected to a fact-free election campaign, it's time to stop holding these sham debates and try something else. I'm thinking a talent competition that is somewhere between "American Idol" and "The Gong Show." That would at least be a step up from the "Biggest Losers" battles we are subjected to these days.
Bill Clinton, a very popular if libidinially challenged candidate, helped bolster his popularity by playing the saxophone on TV. George Bush and Dick Cheney were a winning puppet act. Locally, popular Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas fronts his own rock band, the Conservadelics, and has even been known to torture — I mean, entertain — children with his singing and guitar playing.
Costas visited with the first-grade classes at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School in Valpo recently. He answered questions, gave them a lesson on the obligations of citizenship and the importance of public service, and joined them in rousing renditions of "America the Beautiful" and "This Land is Your Land."
I would have thought his tribute to the Kelsey's Steakhouse mascot "Howie the Cowie" would be more appropriate for first-graders, but he might have been concerned about alienating the future vegetarian vote.
Some people might be concerned about the shortage of musical talent among those interested in running for office, but I don't think that will be a problem. After all, most politicians are very good at blowing their own horn and rapping their opponents.
The opinions are those of the writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (219) 548-4352.