Like 80 million other Americans I watched the presidential debate the other night. According to the news media, which supposedly fact checks bold assertions like this, the viewership numbers encroached into Super Bowl territory and was the most watched presidential debate in history.
But that may have been because TV wasn’t invented when Lincoln and Douglas were around.
And just think what the numbers would have been if Green Day had performed at halftime and sentimental Budweiser commercials with lost dogs and clydesdales were broadcast.
In general, I avoid writing about politics. I find political discussions to be very polarizing and fruitless. I have never ever witnessed anyone be converted by any sort of logic or wisdom presented in political assertions. If such conversion could be accomplished we would be free from endless media analysis and those awkward Thanksgiving dinners upended by Uncle Ernie who has way too much to say on way too many glasses of wine.
Besides, I find that whenever I write about political events I lose readers, even when I haven’t said anything I think is political one way or the other.
Of course, I could also be losing readers because I have nothing humorous or interesting to say.
It even occurs to me that I could be the only one reading this right now.
Nevertheless, I had what was for me an epiphany watching the debate. And I am not talking about the fact that the democratic nominee was wearing red and the republican nominee was sporting blue.
No, after encouraging my teenage kids to watch the debate in the hopes of raising their civic awareness, my daughter rose after about 30 minutes and announced that she still had a lot of homework to finish before going to bed.
About 10 minutes later her brother did the same.
Here was the future generation of our country abandoning this important democratic process because they had to do homework and go to bed.
And I thought to myself, this is good. This is very good.
Because regardless of what I think about the upcoming election, my children’s education and sense of responsibility far transcends any political rhetoric which assumes to secure their future.
In large measure, I think this is true for all of us. We can listen to and engage in important political discussion all we want, but at some point we just need to go to bed and get some sleep.
Because the next day we will get up and work whether there is a President or not.
And these days in particular, we need to get some sleep just to survive the omnipresent political coverage we will be exposed to the next day.
The morning after the debate my tired kids received endless highlights and editorials of the event from radio announcers on their way to school. They were not enlightened one way or the other. Nor were they particularly entertained.
They were reading in the car. They had quizzes to study for.
So here was my epiphany watching this historic presidential debate: When things are good we work hard. When things are not so good, we work harder. But at the end of the day, literally, it is not our ability to work hard that determines our welfare, it is our ability to go to bed and get some sleep.
Unless, of course, you are the current President, in which case you can sleep better knowing that you will soon be out of a job.
Like many people, perhaps even the 80 million that watched the debate, I don’t get enough sleep. Sometimes I just don’t seem to have enough hours. And sometimes I lie awake in worry. I worry about things like whether my kids have the skills and security they need to be happy and healthy now and in the future. Or whether I have anything humorous or interesting to say about it.
Regardless of what happens in the fight for the Oval Office, I still know that every night I need to go to bed so that I can get up in the morning and work hard, even if ultimately I only have baggy eyes to show for it.
So I have concluded that the number one question that I must weigh in this election is whether I will sleep any better after Tuesday, November 8th.
I lost a lot of sleep after the debate thinking about this.
But I came to a predictable answer: I will sleep much better when I stop hearing about the election.
Because it is not the political outcome that is keeping me up at night. It’s all the noise.
By the way, I am not going to bother proofreading this. I am kind of tired and I may risk losing myself as a reader.