Post-debate reflections: Big Bird is now a partisan issue

As a country, we all sat together last night waiting for what was to come in the debates yesterday evening. Surely, it would be a good show, considering how salacious election related headlines have been. We waited for gaffes and a few zingers–oh my! Or maybe talk of the 47%?! Or for Obama to finally call Romney out for his lying habit and his penchant for protecting the interests of the super rich.

Unfortunately, most of the debate was pretty boring. The issues that many of us really wanted to hear positions on went unanswered–what’s going on with immigration reform? Reproductive rights? Equal pay? Same-sex marriage? The issues that matter to us seemed hauntingly absent.

Obama seemed shaky, but his answers to questions about job creation and the economy made sense. (When I wasn’t falling asleep from the worn out tone of his voice.)

Romney, who started out strong (and had clearly drank a lot of coffee), began to fumble as his lies unfolded. He made claims that he had never made before–about not giving rich people tax cuts, about Massachusett’s health care and corporate accountability. He re-confirmed earlier suspicions repeating terms like “foodstamps” and other jabs about old people that shouldn’t get so much “assistance from the government.” #medicare And to make it worst–he wants to kill Big Bird. 

But, if you were to grade the debate on pure presentation, not content, Romney appeared more together and authoritative (interrupting the clearly out-to-lunch Lehrer multiple times) and to undecided voters, that might mean something. Most likely, it won’t mean enough.

Despite Obama’s sleepy and unenthusiastic delivery, the facts are on his side.

But what I left the debate thinking about was not who won, but what else is needed to really win. How do we rebuild a progressive narrative and agenda that actually addresses the big issues facing our generation? The war on reproductive rights, the ridiculous amounts of student debt we carry, the lack of jobs, the foreclosure rate, military spending, the prison industrial complex, immigration reform or the absurd ways that billionaires buy elections! We have so much to worry about, now and hopefully after, Obama is back in office–so we can hold him accountable to an agenda that speaks to those of us that silently support him despite our tremendous distrust and frustration with the content of the debate and direction of the policy in this country.

And for goodness sake–let’s keep Big Bird alive.

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  • Patricia

    I’m wondering why Feministing hasn’t given any notice to third party candidates? Third party candidates are blatantly missing from any mainstream election coverage and not allowed to participate in the debates. Democracy Now expanded last nights debate in real time to allow Green Party candidate Jill Stein and Justice Party candidate Rocky Anderson to respond to the same questions answered by Obama and Romney. The third party candidates were much more candid in addressing issues of poverty, student debt, healthcare, and civil liberties than either Obama or Romney. Hearing strategies, solutions and perspectives from four candidates gave the debate much more depth than the typical Rebublican/Conservative and Democrat/Liberal conversation. I think it’s vital that we don’t forget to include the voices of candidates aside from the two mainstream parties who are both backed by corporate interests.

    • Eva

      I totally agree. As scary as it is to think about life with Romney as president, there is a lot Obama claimed to accomplish that he has not, and while it’s understandable given what Bush did, why are we not talking about that part of Obama, too? It’s especially disconcerting that many democrats seem to put him (and Michelle) on a pedestal, including a lot of what I see here on Feministing, when I think we need to hold his feet to the fire more.

      Between Romney and Obama, of course I’d go with Obama, but that’s not all that we have to choose from; there are other candidates, candidates that are not invested in corporate interests. Because at the end of the day, with repubs and dems, corporate interests always come first.

  • ERose

    Yes, third parties can bring in new perspectives, but I’m always skeptical of any “look how candid they are!” takedown of the two-party system.
    I do think candidates should display the same candor regardless of cost, but I’m uncomfortable giving third party candidates credit for being so much more candid than Republican and Democratic candidates when the stakes are so different.
    Like it or not, third parties have a credibility problem, and that means fewer people to hold them accountable. I’d say some of that problem is that they continually trot out someone with no solid political record to speak of and get mad when no one takes them seriously. I wouldn’t necessarily want to see third party candidates in the debates, because I’m less interested in what someone who hasn’t had to test his ideas against reality has to say in such a high-stakes forum.

    • Patricia

      Whether or not one agrees with the perspective of a third party candidate I think it’s important to consider the political and historical context in which third party candidates have been intentionally excluded from mainstream politics and posited as irrelevant. Feminism, particularly “third-wave feminism” is about critiquing social systems that marginalize the voices of some groups in our society and deem some groups/beliefs/bodies as illegitimate (or lacking in “credibility”). Why is it that only two political parties are marketed as “legitimate”? Two political parties that are posited in opposition to each other reflecting the binary view that you are either “liberal” or “conservative” therefore eliminating a more complex political system involving multiple political viewpoints across a spectrum engaged “legitimately” in the election. What about the role of special interest funding in the political options made available to us? I think this topic deserves some consideration and discussion particularly from a feminist perspective!

  • fyoumudflaps

    I would be down for a European-style coalition election, but since that is not present in the States, it is literally pointless to back third parties. It really winds up being an indirect vote for Rmoney, sadly.