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Confessions of an undecided voter

Joe Terrell: Presidential debate failed to determine front-runner

Published: Thursday, October 4, 2012

Updated: Thursday, October 4, 2012 04:10

In little more than a month’s time, I will have the opportunity to
vote in a presidential election for the first time. I couldn’t be more
excited at the prospect of exercising my democratic right by choosing
a candidate who reflects my ideals and values. However, I currently
have no idea which name I will mark on the ballot come Nov. 6.

When you hear the political pundits referring to the “undecided
voter,” they’re talking about me. I am the elusive and desperately
sought after demographic. At this very moment, two political parties
are vying for my allegiance using a cocktail of rhetoric, charisma and
meticulously crafted arguments.

I’ve researched the issues, tried my best to steer clear of
traditionally biased media outlets and angered both sides of the
political spectrum during heated dinner table exchanges with friends
and family.

But the day is swiftly approaching when I’m going to have to step into
a voting booth and lay down my double-edged devil’s advocate persona
by selecting the candidate I believe is best suited to run this

I’m under no delusions. I live in Texas, so no matter which party I
grant my vote, its impact will be nonexistent. The year Texas swings
blue is also the year Nickelback wins a Grammy for Artist of the Year.

But it’s not about whether or not my vote will count. It’s about the
official declaration of a decision I will carry with me for the next
four years with affirmation or regret. I’m not voting to sway the
outcome of an election, I’m voting to draw a line in the sand for
myself. Instead of viewing my vote as a lifelong commitment to a
political party, I see it as an ideological endorsement of a
particular candidate for a particular moment in time.

With that being said, Wednesday’s presidential debate was of vital
importance to me. I sat down in front of the television not as a
cheerleader for a political party, but as an undecided voter
objectively trying to decide which candidate deserved my vote.

So, what did I observe? Well for starters, I now know what it looks
like when two politicians who have no regard for time constraints or
discussion prompts absolutely bulldoze a moderator on live television.

My condolences go out to Jim Lehrer, who will probably not be invited
back to moderate the 2016 presidential debates.

Of the three scheduled debates, Wednesday’s event at the University of
Denver focused on domestic policy. Naturally, a bulk of the
conversation revolved around the pivotal issue of this election: the
economy. As a college senior staring down the barrel of a gun
chambered with a bullet called “graduation,” the issue hits
uncomfortably close
to home.

Republican candidate Mitt Romney and Democratic incumbent Barack Obama
have radically opposed plans for the economy, though both of them
spent a majority of time on the subject attempting to clarify
misconceptions. I have to agree with Obama’s assertions that Romney
provided no specifics on his economic plan and I struggle to
understand how cutting all taxes by 20 percent across the board is
going to help the deficit.

Aesthetically, both candidates held up pretty well under duress.

Romney and Obama both handled themselves well in front of the camera.

However, what Romney lacks in logical inconsistency with his economic
plans he makes up for in style points. Romney deftly handled Obama’s
retorts and asserted himself as a skilled debater, which should come
as no surprise, as Romney participated in nearly 20 debates during the
Republican primaries.

Early exit polling revealed Romney to be the clear winner of the
debate, which will garner a marginal bump among undecided voters.

Historically, presidential debates have rarely altered the course of
an election, but further polling will probably reveal a dead heat
among registered voters in the
ensuing days.

To be honest, nothing really occurred during Wednesday night to sway
my vote either way. More than anything, I learned presidential debates
are more like a series of carefully rehearsed short speeches than
combative argumentation.

The shadow of Libya hung thick over tonight’s proceedings, but the
issue of foreign policy won’t be addressed until the final debate on
Oct. 22. The next debate, a town hall style Q&A, will air Oct. 16.

I also want to apologize for the Nickelback comment. That was a cheap shot.


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