The debate we need

I write this on the cool evening of September 29, prior to the first presidential debate of the general election. There was a time when I would have watched the debate with anticipation and enthusiasm. These days, however, debates are less about reason and rational argument and more about talking loud, interrupting and attacking an opponent.

Even though they didn’t debate in their 1860 presidential race, seven debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas in their 1858 Illinois senate race became part of American lore. The first presidential debates occurred in 1960 between John Kennedy and Richard Nixon, followed sixteen years later in 1976 between Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford.

The words conservative and liberal are sometimes distorted by a candidate that embraces one or the other to justify his or her position vis-a-vis another candidate. The words are sometimes weaponized by a candidate that uses one or the other as a label to disparage an opponent. Each of these words is worth redeeming. I’ll explore this theme in several October posts.

In what ways are you conservative? In what ways are you liberal?

“My Grandfather was a Republican Nominee Who Put Country First,” by Wendell L. Willkie II, The Atlantic, October 6, 2018 (photo by Murray Becker/AP)

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