Did you watch either of the two recent Democratic debates? It certainly doesn’t seem too far in the past that we were tuning in to see a couple dozen Republicans lambasting the status quo as well as each other, does it? Now it’s the Ds turn to succinctly summarize what they perceive ails us and proffer their cures for those disorders in two minutes or less. That’s a tough task. If the post-event polls are any indication, those candidates who prepared ahead of time with stories, zingers and even a picture or two instead of concrete policy offerings were the prime beneficiaries of positive public response.

In a short period of time with multiple people trying their best to be noticed, it’s difficult for moderators to get any kind of substantive answers to their questions, especially when the on-stage participants only want to get their main talking points across. Which is why when someone asks, “What would you do about Donald Trump’s foreign affairs agenda?” the response is something such as, “I’m glad you asked that question because I believe health care for every American is a right.” Huh? Despite the moderators’ attempts to pursue the original line of questioning, the candidates are going to ignore anything that doesn’t suit their hoped-for knockout sound bites.

That’s certainly nothing new. It’s Politics 101. Stick with your own agenda. Nobody’s going to remember the question. You want them to remember your answer.

Wouldn’t it be nice sometime if office-seekers actually responded to specific questions with specific answers that actually addressed the proffered queries?

In any presidential race, the party OUT of power blames every bad thing imaginable on those IN power. It’s even easier for the loyal opposition to do this when there’s a sitting president running for re-election. But despite the rhetoric, not even the bitterest partisan can truthfully claim that absolutely everything is wrong. Whether any of us ever want to admit it or not, every occupant of the White House has done at least ONE thing right during his term(s) in office. (Granted, sometimes we have to look VERY hard to find it, but chances are it’s there.) And that assessment includes even our most recent Oval Office occupants. (You don’t even have to say the good thing out loud, but just kind of give the devil his due silently, you know?)

Although impossible, it would be fun to have a sit-down one-on-one with candidates for any office, not just the presidency, wouldn’t it? I’m thinking a chat in the living room, maybe after a beer or two, and a dose of truth serum for one of us. (The former is optional, the latter mandatory.)

Shoot, actual costs of proposed plans might be discovered. True feelings about opponents might bubble to the surface. (You know every campaign has people delving into the past of the likely front-runners — just ask Joe Biden. Let’s hear some more of that juicy stuff.) As a matter of fact, what would really liven up any future debates is if at least a couple were devoted to candidates dishing the dirt against one another. Talk about entertaining.

It has to be difficult for any of the Democrats in the race to admit that the economy doesn’t have at least some pretty good things going on right now. I’m no monetary expert, but from what I’ve read, unemployment is pretty darn low, most especially among minorities. And jobs are going begging, so if someone wants to work, there are opportunities. Granted, they’re not all $100,000 tasks, but if you want to work, you can.

Perhaps if someone in the crowded field of presidential wannabes took a page out of John Kennedy’s playbook from the 1960 campaign, he or she would garner some attention. JFK ran against Richard Nixon that year. Dwight Eisenhower had presided over the booming 1950s when jobs were plentiful, goods were being bought, and the economy was humming right along. Nixon was Ike’s vice president and could run on a platform of continuing that success. Kennedy chose not to bash those accomplishments and dismiss them, but to actually agree with the assessment. But he added this caveat: “This is a great country, but I think it could be a greater country; and this is a powerful country, but I think it could be a more powerful country.”

As you might recall, he won the election. Not by much, mind you, but he did win. He knew he couldn’t turn off Eisenhower supporters and still expect to be victorious. Ah, well, different time, different civility.

Bill Lewis is a freelance writer in Marietta.

See more of his work at www.wordsmith-at-large.com.

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