Editorial: Informing the debate


    Last week marked the final presidential debate for the next four years. It was the last time we?ll have to worry about green, yellow and red lights, It was the last time we?ll think about whose hair looks fuller. And it?s (momentarily) the last time where we?ll wonder what each candidate meant.

    For those of you who missed the debates, we?re sorry you did because we found the debates quite entertaining. During the four 90-minute sessions (three presidential and one vice-presidential), the Democrats and Republicans each had time to shine. However, the real miracle remains why so much of the public seemed keen to participate. For the last eight years (or two presidential election cycles), Americans haven?t taken time to watch the debates. However, those numbers improved during this recent elephant-donkey bout. Roughly 62 million people watched the first presidential debate, according to Nielsen Media Research. The numbers dipped during the second debate to 46 million, but they grew back to 51 million viewers during the third debate, even with the Yankees playing the Red Sox. We take hope in these numbers. It appears the American public hasn?t given up on the federal government (or at least there wasn?t much else to watch).

    During our coverage, we haven?t given up hope either that residents will get to the polls Nov. 2. Over the last few weeks, we have suggested citizens get out and vote. However, some misunderstood our position. We want people to vote, but we also want (maybe even more strongly) people to vote informed. Perhaps you disagree with Kerry or Bush or Moore or Hannity, but either way we suggest taking the time to get informed. Take a look at the candidates? Web sites, read a national paper, or even watch The Daily Show (though Jon Stewart or Rob Corddry shouldn?t be your major source, or even your second or third, of candidate views). Either way, please get informed.

    During the past few weeks, some readers have expressed interest in issues like gay marriage, taxes and the Iraqi conflict. These are the same questions we should ask of presidential candidates and find answers. When we learn the issues, we can choose the candidate to lead us. Before we enter the polling stations two weeks from today, let us ask ourselves some questions. How should we deal with Iraq? Should we lower taxes or keep them the same? Who should get tax breaks? Should the federal government regulate marriage? Who would make a better leader? These aren?t the only questions we should ask, but it is a start.

    The first presidential debate let Sen. John Kerry show some decisiveness as he came off calm and collective. On the second and third debates, President George W. Bush came from behind to strengthen his appearance and laud his leadership. Overall we enjoyed seeing the two men spar and take jabs at each other. Two weeks from today, American citizens will take their own jabs via votes. We hope they learned from the debates and vote smart.

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