As timely questions now arise about the economy, immigration, the selection of judges, long-term foreign policy, in addition to the constant concern about Iraq and terrorism; many wonder when we will hear solutions. “Who can beat Hillary” has been the focus of Republican positioning, while the Democrats are still running against George Bush and “his war.” Therefore, a large number of national voters have slept through the presidential debates so far. Anticipating posturing and generalizations, they have not tuned into the discussions. The November 15th Democratic debate hosted by CNN was the first to attract a decent audience. It averaged 4 million viewers according to Nielsen Media Research. CNN scored better that Fox News Channel's Sept. 5th GOP debate, which drew 3.2 million viewers, or ABC’s Aug. 19th GOP debate which drew 2.9 million, or MSNBC’s Philadelphia debate which yielded 2.5 million.
Surprisingly, many well-educated voters are currently going on their “gut feel” about various candidates instead of their knowledge of the candidates’ true positions. Although there is nothing new about voter ignorance, voters desiring change could make terrible choices for the nation at this pivotal time in our history. We need to think about more important issues than whether someone looks presidential or what their ethnicity or gender is. I recently wrote down how six of the candidates could be defined as “candidates of change” merely based on their distinctions alone. A list of potential “firsts” are enumerated below:
1. Rudy Giuliani could be the first Italian American elected to president. 2. Mitt Romney could be the first Mormon ever to reach such a high office.
3. Barack Obama could become the first African-American leader in our nation’s history.
4. John McCain could become the oldest American president to enter this leadership role.
5. Bill Richardson could be the first president from Hispanic descent.
6. Hillary Clinton could be the first woman to be president.
I am hoping that Iowans will represent the nation well by seeking answers to the deeper questions of national concern in the next 40 days or so. Perhaps this Wednesdays’ CNN debate will be helpful. I hope everyone reading this article will tune in to this and future debates because of the importance of this election.
How much change do you want?
Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.