Why I won’t watch the debates - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Why I won’t watch the debates

I didn’t watch the first one, I didn’t watch the second, and I won’t be watching the third of the “Dancing with the Pols” debates.

Why?  Because it’s too much like TV’s “Dancing with the Stars”— one slip on a dip and you’re down and out.  He looked down.  He looked up.  He looked lost.  He smirked.  He laughed.  He came on strong.  He looked surprised.

Huh?  Are the tenets and tricks of game shows any way to elect the next leader of the Western world?

We seem to have become a nation of watchers, not readers or thinkers, so everything becomes about performance.  So, no, I won’t be watching or listening to the 24/7 polls, prognosticators, pontificators, pundits or predictors.

Instead, I’ve been watching 1930s and 1940s black and white movies where the bad boy is redeemed, the gangster gets his just desserts, the poor folks carry on, the wholesome but naïve politician is victorious and the ambitious lawyer who becomes a partner in a prestigious law firm, as William Powell does in “Lawyer Man,” decides he’s going back to old neighborhood to work for ordinary folks and not for the rich, uptown swells.

I can’t get enough of William Powell in Lawyer Man. Something about straight-shooting optimisitc black-and-white movies where you know where everyone stands makes life so less complicated. At least in these films you know who are the good and bad guys.  What happened to honor and decency?(Publicity poster photo)

William Powell has become my new hero, the Everyman, who however suave and sophisticated, exhibits decency and honor.  In “My Man Godfrey,” he pilfers a necklace to buy stocks that save the family where he’s been a butler; with his share, he opens a nightclub near the dump where homeless men live “… giving food and shelter to 50 people in the winter, and giving them employment in the summer.”

Of course, I know that these movies give an optimistic glow to a dark period that saw the United State’s worst unemployment, millions of foreclosures, rampant racial discrimination, and thousands of Americans displaced, moving from place to place, looking for food, shelter and stability.

Still, I can’t help but admire the fine and honorable sentiments of most of these films.

Even though the 1940s film of John Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath” veers from the novel’s far darker ending, there is something ennobling about Ma Joad’s faith after all the family suffers in their move from the Dustbowl of Oklahoma to the orange groves of California.

I ain’t never gonna be scared no more. I was, though. For a while it looked as though we was beat. Good and beat. Looked like we didn’t have nobody in the whole wide world but enemies. Like nobody was friendly no more. Made me feel kinda bad and scared too, like we was lost and nobody cared. … Rich fellas come up and they die, and their kids ain’t no good and they die out, but we keep on coming. We’re the people that live. They can’t wipe us out, they can’t lick us. We’ll go on forever, Pa, cos we’re the people.

In the end, we are the people, just as it says in the Preamble to our Constitution: “We the People …”

In the end, politicians don’t get to Washington their own.

A lot of nice home town folks vote them into office because “He looks like me,” “He’s got a nice family,”  “He’s Catholic, Jewish, Presbyterian, Baptist, whatever, etc. just like me,” and “He knows what he’s talking about (at least he echoes my opinions, and I know what I’m talking about, don’t I?”

We the people send the politicians here to do whatever they do– whether that is obstructive or constructive, whether its the will and good of the people or that of the corporate fat cats and Super PACs that  bankroll way too many candidates.  If we’re a divided nation, it’s not because of the President and the politicians, it is as Walt Kelley’s carton character Pogo said, “We’ve met the enemy and He is Us.”

I’ve read the party platforms, I’ve read what the candidates say they want for the future of our nation of 300 plus million people, and while I love those old movies, I know the country can’t return to those stirring days of yesteryear.

I know who I’m voting for and will wait for November 7 to see which way the rest of nation goes.

(Please take our presidential poll on the right side of the homepage.  You might be surprised who is winning.)


About the author

Karen DeWitt

Karen DeWitt has a long distinguished career as a journalist, covering politics, but also has worked on political campaigns. She compares the later to the labor of a Hebrew working for the Pharaoh. She's covered the White House and the national politics for The New York Times; foreign affairs and the White House for USA TODAY before joining that newspaper’s management as an assistant managing editor. She switched to television as a senior producer for ABC’s Nightline, where she wrote and produced the award-winning, Found Voices about the digitization of 1930s and 1940s interviews with former slaves. She returned to newspapers, as Washington editor for the Examiner newspaper and eventually left to help on local political campaigns. She has several blogs, but contributes mostly to a food blog called “I don’t speak cuisine” at peacecorpsworldwide.org and theroot.com. Contact the author.


  1. Tyler Lewis says:

    I too have no desire to watch the debates. I’m gonna vote early and then check out from this farce!

  2. Yup! The debates are targeting the simpletons in our society. Not the critical thinkers. So easy to talk about surface issues our tweet/re-tweet a snappy comeback, but much more difficult to understand discuss the issues affecting a community and how that impacts the larger society. Reflect on your role as a consumer/voter and then channel your “original” thought(s) into something constructive.


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