The presidential and vice-presidential candidates duked it out preschool style; they whined, argued, gestured, and interrupted. And I wondered, what could be learned from the debates in order to prevent further childish antics in politics? I made a list for voters based on what I considered bad behavior.
1. Do not interrupt others.
Wait your turn. Didn’t you learn anything from Grandma? Interrupting mid-sentence is bad etiquette. Next time the moderator should be prepared with a basket of goodies as a distraction for the candidates, like gummy bears, McDonaldland toys or a can of Play-Doh.
2. Don’t show too much teeth.
Joe Biden, stop smirking and laughing open-mouthed at your opponent. And Paul Ryan, it wouldn’t hurt you to show a tooth or two. I am sure your political advisors reminded you, “Keep your teeth in your mouth, or you’ll look like a jerk.” As a Patch reader, Talisa C., said best, “When Paul Ryan smiles…he looks a lot like Squidward (from SpongeBob SquarePants).” Smiles, everyone, smiles!
3. Stop talking when time is up.
When Jim Lehrer says, “Time is up,” this means your turn is over. Be quiet and go back to your podium. There should be consequences for breaking the rules. First offense: issue a warning. Second offense: put in the naughty corner. Third offense: repeat time out procedure as often as necessary. Super Nanny knew what she was talking about.
4. Never avoid eye contact.
When you start to look the other way, Americans get suspicious. Is there someplace else you would rather be? Are you catching up on some reading? Picking a hangnail? It’s downright rude not to look at the person talking. There is also a problem with too much eye contact. It makes you look aggressive. Look down once in awhile to break eye contact. Blink.
5. Refrain from quoting endless statistics.
Adding a bunch of numbers and statistics to everything you say does not make it true. Fortunately for the candidates, the average viewer will not take the time to double check the figures. Stop confusing thousands with millions, billions or even trillions. We may stop paying attention after the first billion.
Apply the lessons your learned in kindergarten to the debate, stuff like play fair, tell the truth and don’t leave a mess. We all know the difference between right and wrong. Do our candidates?
“It doesn’t matter what you say you believe - it only matters what you do.”