The Debate & The State of Our Country

In Matthew chapter twelve Jesus was judging the Pharisees for their hypocrisy in how they spoke and taught. In the end of the chapter comes a popular verse where Jesus indicts their hearts saying, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” I thought of this verse when thinking about the debate this past week. Taking a step back and looking at the exchange at the debate and the country's reaction to it made me realize the state of our United States. Let me share a few insights before piecing together what I mean. 

First let us look at the debate itself. Many were surprised by the tone and direction it went in. There was a lot of talking, a lot of fighting, name calling, blaming, finger pointing but I'm not sure there was much debating. Debating is traditionally the exchanging of ideas. That’s not what developed during the first debate. It was more of an exchange of insults than ideas. At the end the walls were filthy from all the mud slinging that happened for 90 minutes. The New York Post called it a “brutal slugfest”, commentator Michael Goodwin called it, “a sweaty formless flop.” The moderator Chris Wallace said he never thought it would go sideways the way it did. At one point he told Trump “Your debating [Biden] not me”. Both candidates refused to answer questions and went on political rants avoiding the issues. They both talked over each other, which at one point led Biden to such frustration that he told Trump to shut up. It looked more like kids fighting in the backyard than adults pointing and counterpointing their political ideas. Many were stunned by what transpired. 

To be honest, I wasn’t all that surprised it went that way. Maybe initially, but the more I thought about it, the more I thought it made sense. What makes me think this way? Well look at a recent poll by the Wall Street Journal and NBC News. The WSJ reported that “More than 70% of participants in [the poll] said the debates won't matter much in determining their vote.” The poll also found out that, “Most people say they have already made up their minds and even big events like the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburgh have not led many to say they will change their votes so far.” So the vast majority of the country is not going to change their mind over the course of the three scheduled debates. This shows that for the most part our country is not open minded and dead set in their ways. What good is a debate if you're not open to change anyway? We are stubborn and don’t want to be open to the possibility that what we are believing is wrong. We are not worried about trivial things like facts and the truth. We don’t want to be bothered with what is right. We have convinced ourselves that we are right, so who needs to hear other points of view? We think we are right and that’s good enough. Who cares about anything objective? We are what the Bible likes to call “stiff-necked” (see Acts 7:51). 

But even with this in mind, there are still millions that flocked to their TV to watch. According to CNN Business there were 73 million people that watched! “By almost any measure, the audience was massive. Tuesday's clash was the biggest event on American TV since the Super Bowl last February.
Nielsen said "an estimated 73.1 million people'' watched Tuesday's debate across 16 channels.” But there was actually even more than that watching! The article continues, “The Nielsen ratings only include Americans who watched on television sets. An unknown number of people live-streamed the debate on their phones, listened on the radio, and watched in other ways, which means the total audience easily surpassed 73 million.” That is a lot of viewership for something that won't even impact your vote! So why bother watching the debate at all? Is it to laugh at the opposition? To have ammo for your combative political banter with your co-workers? Is it because there is nothing better to watch? No. The WSJ reports, “Others said they are interested in the debate because they don’t want to miss any viral moments as opposed to weighing the candidates.”!! Yes that’s right, many watched because they thought it would be entertaining. The article continues, “Josh Mendosa, an airline pilot based in Fort Worth, Texas, said he’ll watch for the potential entertainment value. ‘I think they’re both kind of wild cards-you never really know what’s gonna come out  of their mouths-and we're gonna put them on TV and have them debate each other? I think it's gonna make for some pretty entertaining TV.” 
So this is what our country finds entertaining? Two old men verballing sparring? Actually that makes perfect sense. Have you seen political TV? Morning shows? Even sports shows? All it is , is panelists yelling and screaming at each other. No exchanging of ideas. No talking like adults. No being cordial and polite. This type of programming is not about being right, but about being the loudest! What you saw in the debate is exactly what you see when you turn on Fox News, ESPN, The View, CNN or MSNBC! What is supposed to be news is now entertainment. What was once the giving of facts about events is now a TV show. Or to put it another way; we don’t care about getting factual information, we just want to be entertained. Even when we watch the news!
But the most hypocritical moment of the week happened after the debate. The public opinion that poured over the internet was unbelievable. The USA Today reported, “Social media was abuzz with reactions to Tuesday night's political debate, and data suggests that Americans weren't too impressed. People fired off millions of election-related tweets and Facebook statuses during the heated face-off between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. The overwhelming online sentiment was negative toward both candidates during the event marked by various insults and interruptions.” Roughly 67% of opinions on social media were negative in nature to both candidates. Yet how the candidates “debated” is exactly how people talk to each other on social media! The fighting between Biden and Trump is exactly the thing we consistently watch and approve of on TV! We tune in to watch verbal train wrecks on news channels in the millions. And now we want to judge these two men and say “How dare they!”?? See the hypocrisy? 
Who lost the debate? America. Because we are so blind to see where we are at. We are stubborn, arrogant, could care less about the truth, prideful, irresponsible, entertained by verbal conflict and then wonder how we could possibly have a debate like we did. Out of the heart the mouth speaks. And our country's heart is one of hypocrisy and pride. May God have mercy on us for we do not know what we are doing.
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