by Benjamin J. Kirby
The thing I like least about the debates is that they signal the apex of the opposite of what campaigns are supposed to be really about. The debates force us to examine every single new thread draped over the Emperor and the Emperor-Wannabe. They become less about what really matters in campaigns -- or less about what should matter.
I'll admit to being a campaign idealist. I think that campaigns should be about electing officials to serve in a genuinely representative government. And so shouldn't it be that campaigns, when we examine them, are really about us?
Even less than the candidates themselves, shouldn't the story of a political campaign be the story of people who are rallying together to have their voices heard? People at my work and in some of my (albeit limited) social circles are fond of quoting Mahatma Gandhi, "Be the change you want to see in the world," (which wins over exactly zero friends when I point out that he never said this at all). It's a bit self-centered, a bit cliche, but I can appreciate the sentiment. Shouldn't we clamor for the change we want, and shouldn't campaigns be about how that change is going to come about?
I'm also a reluctant realist. I know that a glorious campaign of ideas is never going to happen. People will over-scrutinize candidates, they will over-interpret polling, and we will still be stuck with scripted debates where the expectations are set somewhere below the crust of the Earth.
That's not to say campaigns shouldn't be about the candidates -- they should. They really should. Because you do want to make sure that candidate is him- or herself going to embody that change you want to see...
And so it is particularly nice when, in these moments of deep candidate meta-examination and cheap expectation-setting that a real story can break through.
Please go read the story behind this picture:
It's the story of Kobe, down in Ft. Myers. It is the story of the Vice President, yes.
But what you're really reading is one of those too-rare stories that is exactly what a campaign should be about. Certainly this one.