BY NICK IRONSIDE // OCT. 3, 2012 //
The first of three debates between President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney is at 9 tonight. If you plan on voting, consider putting video games aside for an hour-and-a-half.
Forget campaign commercials, reports that Obama leads in the polls, or that Romney has a better plan for this or that issue. Tonight is like a political boxing bout. Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao can do all the talking they want before they face each other, but when they step into that ring (or, in Obama and Romney’s cases, stage), they will leave everything on the floor.
While Obama and Romney won’t literally be throwing punches, they’ll verbally be swinging left and right hooks every minute or so. If you’re voting, you’ll want to keep an open mind. Just like a boxing match, momentum can sway after one verbal hit.
Clear your mind before a debate. When it’s time to vote, you can let anything sway your opinion. But if you’re a registered voter and have an idea of whom to vote for one way or the other, don’t just shrug off everything Obama or Romney says. Listen.
One tip for watching political debates that I was given back in January is similar to what a professor of mine always says in our Social Media Communication class. “What’s In It For Me?” (Also known as “WIIFM.”) In my class, he’s referring to the consumer and the company. But in politics, you’re the consumer. You choose who is the right candidate. You vote. Who fits your needs?
Don’t vote for Romney just because you don’t want Obama in office. Similarly, don’t vote for Obama just because he’s a Democrat. What’s in it for you? Both candidates have different views on different topics. Think about what you really care about, and listen to what the candidates have to say about those topics.
Should government spending be cut and taxes raised on households with high incomes to reduce the deficit? Or should taxes be cut to encourage business?
Where do you stand on abortion? Pro-life or pro-choice? How do you feel about gay rights? Do you care more about short-term job creation, or is a longer-term plan better in your eyes? Obama’s policy includes ways to speed up the employment rates, while Romney’s plan gradually builds more jobs. But which plan will work?
When watching the debate tonight, keep in mind that not everything Obama and Romney will say is important. You need to pick out the important squibs from the muck that is spewed out during such debates. And don’t forget the most important reminder for a registered voter: What’s in it for me?