We were disappointed by the candidates’ misrepresentation and omission of facts that served only to shape the political narrative in ways favorable to the candidates. Though this manipulation might be expected in our current political atmosphere, it should not deter us from demanding greater honesty and engagement with the facts from our political candidates.
On the Republican side, Gov. Mitt Romney repeated his assertion that President Barack Obama cut $716 billion from payments to Medicare recipients in order to fund Obamacare. However, analysis of the facts and reports from a wide range of media sources demonstrate these cuts actually reduced payments to health care providers and were even included in Rep. Paul Ryan’s own budget plan. Rather than providing a substantive critique of Obama’s health care plan, Romney repeated a blatant, sensationalistic misrepresentation. We would have liked to see Romney offer concrete reasons for why the Affordable Care Act is undesirable. Such arguments would meaningfully contribute to our public discourse in ways that repeating manipulated figures do not.
On the Democratic side, Obama’s performance was lackluster and he did not expound on the fundamental economic and philosophic differences between the two candidates. His answers were long, hesitant and unfocused. He also spent an inordinate amount of time reiterating sensationalistic figures without explaining how or why those figures matter in this election. While he continually accused Romney of proposing a $5 trillion tax cut, Obama failed to detail how he arrived at the number or specifically why a large tax cut is morally or economically undesirable beyond vague allusions to the middle class having to pay for it. Instead of constantly reiterating that figure, Obama should have recognized and clashed directly with the strongest arguments from the Republican side, perhaps making a moral case for progressive taxation or an economic argument.
Ultimately, someone must hold our political candidates responsible for speaking meaningfully about the issues in these debates and throughout the election. Everyone in the country benefits from less misrepresentation and greater debate on the fundamental differences between the candidates on each issue. If the candidates themselves, their parties and the moderators of these debates will not hold speech to a higher standard, it falls to the American people — and particularly, informed and passionate citizens like college students — to demand more, by using our voices and our votes.
Editorials reflect the majority opinion of The Daily Princetonian’s student Editorial Board and not the opinions of either Princeton University or The Daily Princetonian Publishing Company, Inc.