A Few Words about the June Democratic Debates

In my last post, I declared that I would be listening to each of the participants in the first round of the Democratic presidential candidate debates for some hint of generosity, compassion, and wisdom in their remarks.  Well, not long into the first evening’s debate, I started feeling a little like the hapless hero of that old pop tune, the guy who was “lookin’ for love in all the wrong places”.  There I was, looking for compassion on a debate stage whose ten occupants were focused mostly on creating a visual moment that could go viral on social media and thereby boost their poll numbers. What I heard instead was a lot of interrupting, grandstanding, and in a few cases, personal attacks. Hardly what Buddhism refers to as “skillful speech”.

With hindsight, I guess this was to be expected.  The format of these early debates – crowded as they are with so many candidates – all but guarantees this kind of behavior. Attention goes to the ones who speak up the most forcefully, and at this early stage, media attention is to a campaign what oxygen is to a person – the very substance that keeps one alive.

The fact that Kamala Harris is considered to have scored the biggest “win” – largely if not entirely due to her impassioned verbal confrontation with Joe Biden – would seem to validate this assertion.

My conclusion:  we’ll have to wait until the candidate field has been narrowed down before this form of one-upmanship abates.  Ironically, it will probably take even more of this one-upmanship in order to accomplish the very narrowing down that will hopefully bring about its end.  Then, perhaps, the debate stage will morph from one of the above-mentioned “wrong places” to, in fact, the perfect place to listen for words of generosity, compassion, and wisdom.

I’ll be waiting.


4 thoughts on “A Few Words about the June Democratic Debates

  1. The planet must be going through a Wellsian gas cloud that causes lunacy. Just yesterday I wrote to Jeremy Corbyn (as though it mattered) pledging unwavering support for his leadership which many see as unimpressive because the finger-pointing ranting & sneering of current prospective ‘leaders’ is not part of his repertoire. For me, he is akin to the Baggage Handler in Hermann Hesse’s ‘Journey to the East’ who turns out to be the true, let’s say, unassuming, leader without whom everything in the project falls apart. He is possessed of compassion, generosity, skilful speech, biding his time with wisdom. Unfortunately, many see these qualities as weaknesses for the reason, in my humble view, that, like the rest of Hesse’s trekkers in the Morbio Gorge, they have not learned to lead themselves and so require the strident stupidity of Trumpson.

    It’s perhaps rather absurd for a long-time card-carrying anarchist to be rooting for a political leader but JC, as my father would have said (but, being the diehard Tory he was, not about Corbyn) is a different kettle of fish.

    Oh yes, I ought to point out that my wife says I’m never humble….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sad but true, Colin, that compassion, generosity, wisdom, and skillful speech are seen by the Trumps of the world as signs of weakness. Love your new term “Trumpson” – it has a mad, monstrous, and mindless ring to it that’s all too appropriate. In spite of my professed nontheism, I can only say “God help us all.”


  2. thank you for listening and analyzing, Tom
    so i don’t have to, as i’m taking a media break
    from this angry age of tRump.
    if only journalists would again
    do journalism and support citizen’s understanding
    of the reality barely hidden behind the debate curtain.
    wishing you a happy, fresh moment 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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