Sunday, October 7, 2012

A C-minus Report Card: Grading the Pesidential Campaign

Maybe it's because I was an education major in college (and taught part time for two decades), but something in me wants to assign grades to our current US presidential candidates, and I’m not sure I could give either of them really high marks.

Here, for whatever it’s worth, is my “report card,” along with some teacher-like comments:

C-   Mathematics
Whenever you use numbers in addressing problems, make sure you explain how you arrived at them. For example, don’t throw out the promise of 12,000,000 new private sector jobs without telling us what numbers you’ve added or multiplied to arrive at that optimistic figure. Or if you accuse your opponent of promoting a five trillion dollar tax cut, explain what numbers you’re using, where they come from, and how they actually add up to that total.

C-   Language Arts
Words need to be chosen carefully and used discreetly. They should always educate and inform, and never be used to manipulate, obfuscate or simply propagandize. Nor should you verbally attack another’s character. Always speak and write plainly, clearly and respectfully.

C-   Health
Keep in mind that improving people’s health can never be done by legislation alone, and that it remains the responsibility of each citizen to practice good habits like not abusing drugs and alcohol, exercising regularly, and eating nutritious, real food (rather than over packaged, over processed and over marketed food products with ingredients you can’t spell, define or pronounce). At the same time, we do need help to find a way to provide for the kind of highly specialized and prohibitively expensive medical procedures we now take for granted but that our parents and grandparents never dreamed of. Just admit that healthcare has become a dilemma for which there are no easy answers.
See also

C-   Science
If you question the validity of the multitude of studies that show that human activity is contributing to potentially disastrous climate change, explain what good research based evidence supports your contrary point of view. On the other hand, if you promote investing ever more tax dollars in renewable energy sources, show us the hard scientific evidence on which your position is based.

C-   Civics
Remember this nation is not choosing a monarch or a dictator, but a fellow citizen who is simply to head one of three branches of a democratic government. According to the US constitution, a president is to have limited power and in fact has little control over things like providing jobs, improving the economy or lowering gas prices. Stop pretending you can control those things.
See also

C-   History
While all nations think they are truly exceptional, will survive forever and have an ever brighter and more prosperous future, you should know that even the world’s greatest powers have always eventually come to an end, and often not by being destroyed from without but weakened from within. And anyone smarter than a fifth grader should know nations can’t endlessly borrow trillions to painlessly finance military campaigns that take a gigantic toll on its resources.

C-   Deportment (Yes, this used to appear on some report cards)
You can behave much better than you have been. For example, your mudslinging and misleading need to stop. And if you’re involved in an activity like a debate, follow the rules, don’t constantly interrupt, show some respect for your elders, and generally mind your manners.

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