LETTER: Debate winners should be voters

York Dispatch

My son's government teacher offered extra credit to students who watched the Republican and Democratic debates. We watched them together and had some interesting conversations. After watching the Republican debates every media outlet wanted to declare a winner. Now, the morning after the Democratic debate, the same broadcasters are declaring a winner. I think everyone is missing the point. The winner is declared when the primary elections are over.

My seventh-grader asked who won and was really confused when I had to explain to him that there are not supposed to be winners. I understand his confusion because more and more people treat politics like a sport franchise. If you're a Steelers fan you have to hate the Ravens and beat them; if you are an Eagles fan you have to hate the Cowboys and beat them. Now take out the team names and replace them with people's names. Seems wrong doesn't it?

The intention of the debates is for our potential leaders to put all of the issues on the table in front of the American people. It's not just the issues that make the biggest headlines. Banking regulations are not sexy, but it is important to discuss, unless we want another housing crisis. Debates are supposed to give you the impression of what this candidate will be like every day in the Oval Office. Can they bring Congress together to compromise? How will they influence the private sector? How will they influence social issues? How will they respond in financial or security crises? Will they strengthen our international ties or be more divisive?

I am an independent. Pennsylvania primaries are closed, so I had to affiliate. Too many voters just look for the letter of their choosing and check the box. The danger is depending on the letter too much and not asking questions. Our country was founded on the principle that the government should always be questioned to make it better. This includes the election process. It is important for me to encourage my boys to learn the issues important to them and hold their leaders accountable to those issues. Don't trust the letter to know what's best. Trust yourself. The winners of the debates should be the voters.

Next year will be my son's first election. His decision is his alone, and I hope he will trust his knowledge rather than a letter.