How Podcasting Can Save America

…from the simultaneously mind-numbing and stress-inducing tedium that is our presidential process.

Or maybe it can just save you from the numbing and the stress.

I didn’t watch the GOP debates the other day. Not Trump’s prime-time glory show, nor the “kids’ table” that preceded it. It’s not that I don’t care (and at this point, I don’t, but that’s not it.) It’s that the format is too short, all wrong, and needlessly combative.

How much could you learn about any of these guys given the time allotted?

nyt graphic

I didn’t think so.

What’s worse, you can’t learn much when they only can respond to the questions asked, nor through the faux back-and-forth the moderators attempt to impose for the sake of the audience — nor can you really understand much for all the real-time Twitter debunk/fact-check/hit-and-run.

It’s ugly, and it becomes a brutish pageant. No wonder the self-promoter got the most time.

So how do we fix it?


I have been fortunate at times to be able to listen to politicians speak when it is simply a conversation. No combative barbs, no squeezing of talking points, no time constraints. Give a candidate 20-30 minutes, and ask them to fill it.

I’d much rather spend a few hours in meditation, listening to a candidate speak in context about priorities, and solutions. You’re going to spend more than that amount of time anyway, with all of the attack ads and horserace coverage for the next few months.

You know what you would find?

You’d probably discover that the people you are certain you would never vote for… are, you know, human. And maybe they aren’t evil, greedy, stupid racist misogynists. (or, if you lean right, you might find that they are not America-hating, God-hating, soulless commies who want to kill babies and turn us into slaves to the United Nations.)

Something funny happens when you get outside of the time constraints of a Bugs Bunny cartoon: people tend to fill out beyond caricature, and become human again. You might also find that while there are a lot of different remedies and prescriptions for what ails us, and many different takes on what our biggest needs are, that you will be in disagreement with a bunch of those policies (but the person delivering them is not the ogre you’ve been led to believe.)

Hear it for yourself

In the world of my creation (ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!) never mind.

Ideally, we would be able to kick back and listen for ourselves. But this takes work, and no one is going to serve these interviews up for you. And if they did, you should probably be suspicious of what they left in and what they took out.

Ideally, someone would collect these conversations, and make them available for an easy download. Spend a few minutes on a walk, or a commute, and give someone a listen without the instant distractions and the lure of instant gratification. I haven’t seen any candidates jumping on podcasts, and I wonder why. It is easily distributed, and given the immersive nature of earbuds and headphones, I can’t think of a more intimate way to reach directly into someone’s brain and make the case for a vote.

If candidates don’t provide it for you, then just find a show or two and feed your brain. Ignore the clutter of the coverage. You’ll be happier.

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