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Don’t give up on voting despite debate debacle

Perhaps after the debacle that was last week’s presidential debate, you might be rethinking whether you even want to vote Nov. 3.

I watched the first debate broadcast from Cleveland last week. So if you’re frustrated, I feel your pain. Yes, it was a “presidential” debate, but these two men were anything but presidential.

Even if you didn’t waste your time Tuesday night, you’ve probably already heard by now about the childishness of President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden that included cross-talk, butting in, speaking over one another, raising their voices and even stooping low to name calling.

Since then, I’ve watched some national news commentary and read some national columnists to get their take on the whole mess, and much like many of us, the view was in the eye of the beholder.

Left-leaning, liberal commentators were very critical of the president’s lack of restraint — especially his inability to allow Biden to relay a complete thought without interrupting him.

And it came as no surprise that the right-leaning, conservative columnists focused on Biden disrespecting the president by calling Trump a “clown,” and at one point, telling him to “shut up, man.”

No, it’s not cool to tell the leader of the free world to “shut up,” but, frankly, I too found myself shouting similar comments at the TV, including my encouragement to moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News, to have someone backstage turn off Trump’s microphone while Biden was trying to speak.

Later, I wondered to some of my newspaper colleagues whether Trump had been exceptionally abrasive on purpose, in an effort to trip up Biden, causing him to lose his train of thought, or to rattle Biden enough to get him to lose his temper.

Just like the national commentators who had very differing opinions on the debate, so did some of our readers.

As I could have predicted — much like it has been the case this whole election year — I received phone calls and emails Wednesday from readers who were critical of our coverage — some accusing us of being way too easy on Trump, and blaming us for being radically right-winged. Others accused us of giving Biden a free pass when he was disrespectful to the president.

All I could tell them was that we always try our best to present our news in a fair and balanced manner.

And from where I sit, I think the whole debate was pretty balanced — the two candidates were equally ridiculous.

My son agrees.

I watched the debate with the son who just last week turned 18 and who will be voting for the first time in this election.

He sat with his mouth hanging open. I sat shaking my head.

“Really?” he asked me. “Is this the best America has to offer?”

As the quote goes, “Out of the mouths of babes….”

Despite all this, don’t give up hope yet. There remain two more presidential debates scheduled for Oct. 15 and Oct. 22.

And despite their outcome, please don’t give up on voting. There are plenty of statewide and local races and issues that deserve your attention.

If you haven’t registered, time is getting tight. Ohio’s deadline to register to vote in this election is Monday. It’s easy. You can do it online at the Ohio Secretary of State’s website. Visit www.sos.state.oh.us. All you need is your Ohio driver’s license or Ohio identification card number; date of birth; address; and the last four digits of your Social Security number.

It is your civic duty to take part in the process to choose our leaders. We often complain about their performance; that should be the catalyst to get us to the polls. If we have no complaints, that should be a catalyst, too, to make sure our officials retain office.

It’s your privilege to vote. Please take it to heart.

Linert is editor of the Tribune Chronicle and The Vindicator.

blinert@tribtoday.com

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