As I write this, the first 2016 presidential debate has yet to happen. So I don’t have any idea how this upcoming so-called exchange of ideas might go. I suspect, though, it’s going to be a gunfight. And you know the saying, “Don’t bring a knife to a gunfight?” Well, the advice I’d give to the candidates in this and other debates this season would be, “Don’t bring a fact checker to a gunfight.”
I’ve heard this presidential contest described as a race between the tin man and the scarecrow; one candidate has no brain; the other has no heart (I’ll leave it to you to figure out who’s who.) It’s an interesting characterization. What’s a nation to do if one of our presidential candidates is cut off from the fears and realities of everyday Americans while the other one lacks the ability to actually address these fears and realities?
Just when I think there’s no hope, though, I see a political ad that gets it. In Missouri, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jason Kander is running against Republican incumbent Roy Blunt. When the NRA produced an ad questioning Kander’s support of the second amendment, Kander responded with his own ad. It’s exceptional. The ad opens with Kander wearing a blindfold in a big empty warehouse. In front of him on a table is a collection of gun parts. As he describes his military experience in Afghanistan, he deftly assembles an AR-15. He’s still blindfolded when he closes, “I … believe in background checks so that terrorists can’t get their hands on one of these.” Then as he removes his blindfold, Kander says, “I approve this message because I’d like to see Sen. Blunt do this.”
I haven’t paid much attention to the Missouri Senate race, but this ad got me. It was a clear combination of heart, brains, and courage. I believe that’s the combination so many of us are hoping for in our leaders. Otherwise, why would the story of the Wizard of Oz still touch so many of us?
If I could make a plea to all of our political hopefuls this election season, please show us your heart, brains, and courage. Let us in on what you’ve overcome, how you’ve loved, and how much you’ve learned. In the most unexpected way, with only a few words while blindly assembling an AR-15, Jason Kander let us see all of that. Maybe he’ll win; maybe not. But he’s a good example for candidates to follow. After all, he loves America enough to serve, is courageous enough to sacrifice, and he’s smart enough to bring a gun to a gunfight.
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