Tonight the Red Sox will play the last game of a disappointing season that ended long ago, as far as any aspirations for the post season were concerned. The only thing that matters about tonight is that it would be nice to beat the Yankees on the way out. As far as the Yanks go, the game matters only as far as bragging rights go; win or lose, they are going to the playoffs. That said, I’m going to watch the game tonight instead of the presidential debate because the game has more significance. The debate is the political equivalent of professional wrestling: all posture and no substance.
Ever since Richard Nixon’s loss to John Kennedy was attributed to his poor showing in their televised debate, candidates on both sides have worked to master the medium, to make sure they come off in the best light, and to learn how to spar and wait for the right moment to deliver a “zinger.” So they talk about how well the other one debates in order to lower expectations, the pour over old tapes to look for strengths and weaknesses, and they sequester themselves to practice, practice, practice so we can all gather around our televisions like a mob at a cock fight to cheer for our favorite and shout down the other. When the debate is over, all that will be added to the equation is fodder for the 24 news cycle, who are the ones who fomented the fervor in the first place.
So watch baseball or Law and Order reruns or something that matters. Skip the debates. Better yet, get together with a group of people you trust and who don’t all agree with you and have a discussion about what needs to happen in our country that avoids the catch phrases and cliches that fill our airwaves. Talk about health care without using the word “Obamacare.” Talk about class issues in our country without referring to the “Forty-seven percent.” Don’t run to opposite poles and scream at each other. Don’t settle for political theater and honest discourse. Get together, eat together, and then listen more than you talk.
And while you’re at it, pull for the Sox.