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Why watch the presidential debates? Because Tracy said so

Grab your calendar, my fellow Americans, because it’s gut-check time. There are less than 40 days left until Election Day, and the first presidential debate is this week. I suspect even our typical Minnesota Nice-routine is about to get bumpy.

Remember when you were a kid and your parents would say you had to do something for no other reason than "because?" Ugh! I used to hate it when my mom played the "because card" since it can’t be debated. (Not that debating with your parents was ever a good strategy!)

However, now that I’m the parent I do the same thing.

"Why?" they ask. "Why do we have to clean the bathroom, empty the dishwasher and fold the socks and underwear?" I want to tell them it's because I don’t like to do those jobs, but what I actually say is, "Because I said so, that’s why."

This parental logic extends all the way to the founding fathers. Why do we have to care about the presidential debate? If the founding fathers were here today, after they got over the shock of all the tattoos and coffee shops on every corner, I’m sure they would tell us we have to watch the debates "because they said so."


Those of you who already know who you’ll be voting for and won’t even consider the point of view of another candidate can move along now to another part of the paper because the rest of this space will be for those of us who reside neither in the far right nor left of the party we usually support. We are the moderate folks in The Middle who have a tough time supporting either candidate after the righties or lefties get done molding them. I realize we may be exasperated by politicians, but it’s time to suck it up and start paying attention.

Yes, those of us in Midlandia usually are turned off by the bluster and rhetoric the "true believers" spout from the far sides of their respective parties. However, that’s actually the strategy the folks running each of those campaigns rely on: Fire up the base to get out the vote and then run negative ads in an effort to encourage us Midlanders to vote against the other guy or make us so disgusted and disheartened we don’t show up at the polls at all.

Folks will say they don’t like negative ads, but research proves they work time and again. We have no one to blame but ourselves. As a nation, we watch bullies for entertainment and love to pile on in judgment of celebrity figures so we shouldn’t be surprised that negative ads are effective. However, I am convinced the remedy to a negative campaign is an informed electorate. A negative ad won’t work if you know why you are voting for a particular candidate.

So here we are back at "because I said so" — the answer we don’t like to hear regarding something we’re not thrilled about. When it comes to politics, I’m not excited about paying attention to people making hollow promises and flinging accusations all day long; but pay attention we must.

The first debate is Wednesday, with follow up debates on the Oct. 16 and 22. Mark your calendar as these are the nights you should turn the channel from the usual Honey Boo Boo and Dancing With the Stars television fare and pay attention to what both candidates have to say.

It may not be an enjoyable way to spend the evening but you should, because we said so. 

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