I stopped on the way home from the gym and dojo this evening and picked up some takeout. The young man at the restaurant working the register asked if I was going to watch the debate. I said most likely yes, not that the debate itself is likely to matter to around 90% of the population. He replied with “yep, its not like there’s really a choice, each one is bad. So who are you supporting?” I told him that was the wrong question to ask. Without going into my extended resume, I explained that I work on defense and security policy and strategy and explained that there is really only one thing to watch for tonight, as well as at the follow on debates, and all the campaign rallies. What you should be watching for is for the candidate to delineate what their policy is for each issue they are asked about, then for their strategy – the ways and means – to achieve those policy objectives. And then what you want to think about is are those feasible (do the means make sense), are they acceptable (can it be gotten through Congress, will the US citizenry support it), and are they suitable (will they actually resolve the problem). And I said this was important because no matter what the news reporters or analysts or pundits tell you, this isn’t about who you want to have a burger and a beer with, because you’re never going to have a burger and a beer with the President or any other candidate. I finished by explaining that if you’re the candidate claiming that you are promoting change, than you have to delineate and lay out what that change means and how to achieve it. That this is what President Obama did in 2008, even if you didn’t agree then/don’t agree now with what those changes are. And this is what Governor Romney did in 2012. What President Obama proposed in 2008 resonated with enough voters to get him elected, what Governor Romney proposed in 20102 didn’t. And if a candidate just calls for change, but can’t actually articulate what that alternative system would be – domestic or global – and a coherent strategy to get there, then that should tell you something. So you have to ask yourself: which one of these two candidates have a plan, has articulated policies, and has delineated strategies and which one doesn’t. I then took my takeout order and headed home.
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