Reality Check of Principles

The Presidential debates are sanctioned by the parties and the candidates as official forums for the discussion of ideas… It is incumbent upon the national press to not abuse and distort such forums with sensationalism for the sake of ratings.

The Roman Emperor Titus oversaw the inauguration of the Roman Colosseum in 80 AD. The opening event required several thousand pairs of gladiators. Many died in battle. At times it became a problem on where to find enough participants to meet the insatiable appetite of the Roman spectators who demanded sadistic entertainment. The Roman Empire had begun its slippery slope to decline, believed by many scholars to be manifested around 180 AD.

At the height of the Roman Empire’s glory and power, the citizens of Rome were more concerned about satisfying their tendencies towards debauchery than addressing the principles that had established the Roman Empire as the world’s greatest power of the time. The rise of the public’s demand for gladiator fights actually stemmed from the fact that Christians sentenced to damnatio ad bestias (condemnation to the wild beast) was not exciting enough for them. Apparently, feeding Christians to the lions took too long and didn’t provide enough action.

Roman government and civilization had many fatal flaws besides the desires of prurient interest. There are over four hundred theories on why Rome collapsed. Certainly disease played a role. Malaria spread due to the deforestation of surrounding hills, leaving swamps for the breeding of mosquitos. With the introduction of Caesars, starting with Gaius Marius in 157 BC and ending with Glycerius in 474 AD, the government became progressively centralized, corrupt, inept, and inflexible. The conquered areas of the Roman military largely became members of a confederation. They were not bound by rule of law, but by rule of force. There was no foreign policy and no Secretary of State, just provincial submission. Rule of law for citizens, other than the privileged Roman citizen, was nonexistent.

Provinces then sought identity with Rome through principles that were applied to all citizens. When the Visigoths sacked Rome in 410 AD, led by Alaric, they actually were not seeking the destruction of Rome, but seeking rights as citizens to titles, land and money for serving as Rome’s agents (foederati) in Gaul. Rome was blind to the demands, and the decline continued.

In the United States today, we do have rule of law for all citizens and we are an example for normal relations with foreign governments. Unlike Rome, we do not rule by force. Yet we are precariously close to ignoring the principles on which this great country was founded. Are we anywhere near the decadence of Rome? Of course not. But when you abandon principles that are proven to be the foundation of a great society, you are opening yourself up to the invasion of concepts that divide you and demean your continuity.

The last CNN Presidential debate was appalling. Not because the candidates didn’t do their best to answer the questions and present solutions to the American public for their consideration, but because the press turned it into a spectacle of reality TV, forcing the participants into verbal “gladiator” fights for the amusement of the audience without any true socially redeeming value. At no point did Jake Tapper ask a question that went to the core of a problem facing America and subject to a statement made by one of the candidates. He could have addressed a question to Ben Carson as follows:

“Dr. Carson, you have called for the repeal of Obama Care. The Affordable Care Act, according to the Congressional Budget Office, is costing approximately 40% more to implement than projected. At least five states face a budget crisis next spring in reference to carrying their share of the cost for providing health care. As a medical professional, what is your answer for an alternative program?” 

He then could have offered Carson’s answer to other candidates for critique and challenge. If he wanted to play the game of “he said, she said,” he could have worked it into a segment. But it didn’t have to be the compendium of the entire debate for three hours. It may very well be that their marketers for national TV believed that, to gain viewers and hold their attention, the debate had to be structured around a reality TV format. Certainly Don Trump presents himself for such a format. Feeding the audience’s desire for dramatic action is not conducive to constructive thought.

If we as citizens of the United States collectively are going to find solutions and policy to solve our immediate problems, then we must have the opportunity through our leaders to discuss options based upon principles that define us together as Americans.

It is time for a reality check.

The problems facing our country today are real and affect us instanter. The budget, immigration, foreign policy, religious liberty, states’ rights, and health care could be categorized as not only serious, but approaching crisis. The Presidential debates are sanctioned by the parties and the candidates as official forums for the discussion of ideas. They are few in number. Their purpose is to inform the public about the candidates’ positions on issues so that the electorate can make an informed decision based on their personal preferences. It is incumbent upon the national press to not abuse and distort such forums with sensationalism for the sake of ratings. It is not their forum, it is the people’s forum. The press is politically negligent to abuse such a rare opportunity.

Governor Chris Christie obtained his highest rating for his comments challenging Tapper’s approach of not pursuing legitimate issues and discussion. The public wants answers, and they can handle the answers, once the reality of the facts is made clear. Each candidate should state the principles that they believe define us as American. Those principles that bind us are the foundation for discussing priorities and policy. By forcing attacks on the candidates on the basis of personality and appearance, the last Presidential debate reduced us to the spectacle of a gladiator fight in the Roman colosseum. Entertaining? Maybe….but not conducive to creative thought.

Real answers to real problems require the recognition of reality. The public is ready for real options. They will reward candidates with the courage to tell them the truth, regardless of the shallowness of the press. Let the substantive debate begin. Our future depends upon it.

My name is Marc Nuttle and this is what I believe

What do you believe?