1984 debate offers a lesson for 2020
As I tried to go to sleep Tuesday night, I found that I could not get the image of two grown men bullying and being rude to each other. I decided to look up some past debates when people were still civil and polite to each other.
On my first try on YouTube, I found the event I was looking for: 1984, with President Ronald Reagan debating the Democratic challenger, Walter Mondale in Kansas City.
President Reagan was asked if his age would be a problem during the next four years. President Reagan had replied that he was confident in his health. In the next few moments, President Reagan had the best “Drop the Mike” moment in presidential debate history.
He said that “I will not exploit my opponent’s youth and inexperience for political gain.”
As he finished the statement, the crowd laughed, the moderator laughed and Walter Mondale laughed! It wasn’t just a polite chuckle but a true laugh. In that moment, Mr. Mondale knew he had been “zinged” by the Great Communicator. He didn’t try and interrupt President Reagan, he just laughed.
President Reagan would go on to win a second term in 1984 by a landslide. While I don’t think President Reagan and Mr. Mondale were close friends after that debate, they both had shown professionalism and civility toward each other.
That was certainly missing in the debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. As a country, we need to return to a time when we can disagree but still work together.
Robert Benson, Gretna, Neb.
Kleine falls short
Don Kleine needs to resign or keep his opinions to himself and allow justice to be “justice for all.”
David Mohs, Omaha
Bostelman deserves support
As a former Nebraska state senator, I have been watching the District 23 race for legislature with much interest. I am writing to give Sen. Bruce Bostelman of Brainard my full endorsement for reelection this fall.
Sen. Bostelman has been a solid conservative who has delivered on key priorities for our communities. First, he helped deliver substantial property tax relief totaling $650 million annually, a significant boost from previous relief efforts. Second, he has been a defender of the Second Amendment, introducing the only pro-gun bill signed into law in the last few years. And third, he has been a vocal pro-life senator, supporting multiple pro-life bills. Sen. Bostelman’s vote for the recent dismemberment abortion ban was critical to getting it across the finish line. The bill would not have made it through the last round of voting without his support.
I urge the people of District 23 to join me in supporting Sen. Bostelman’s reelection on Tuesday, Nov. 3.
Loran Schmit, Bellwood, Neb.
President’s troubling words
During the first presidential debate, when moderator Chris Wallace asked President Trump if he would condemn the racism of the white supremacist groups, he hemmed and hawed. When he finally responded, his advice to his white supremacist supporters was “Stand back, stand by.”
This sounds to me a call for rebellion to his white supremacist supporters if he loses the election. As a minority in my beloved democratic country, I am scared sick of this statement from the president who took the oath to protect the rights of all the members of our society.
Sitaram Jaswal, Lincoln
The character flaws of the president of the United States were in full view at the first presidential debate on Tuesday evening. These flaws have been enumerated thousands of times, so no need to repeat them again. However, I would add “contemptuous” and “repellent” to the list. It’s puzzling that his supporters do not seem to recognize his flaws, or choose to totally ignore them. Could it be that some men idolize him and want to emulate his behavior? Would female supporters want their husband, boyfriend, son, father or brother to be like this president? It’s unfathomable, but as the saying goes, “birds of a feather ... .”
It is time for honest, trustworthy, truthful and respectful leadership sitting in the White House. The man and woman running against this president exemplify all those positive traits.
Robert D. and Linda L. Zuehlsdorf, Kearney
Just imagine how much better off our country would be if the Democrat Party stopped their vicious attacks on the president, supported law enforcement, demanded to bring our soldiers home from endless foreign wars, worked to help our economy by reducing taxes and government control, supported real education improvements by allowing school choice, believed that people need a hand up not a government handout, ignored the siren calls of socialism, promoted peace and love by defending all life, religious freedom, family life, and freedom of speech for all, and finally embraced the idea that despite all its faults, the U.S. has brought more good to the world than any other country on the planet.
Lou Totilas, Kimballton, Iowa
Our frightening times
I was disturbed recently when I heard a TV pastor say that he will only vote for someone who is against abortions. There is a difference between being in favor of abortions as opposed to being in favor of abortion rights. No one wants unborn babies to be killed! I must be one of the very few people old enough to remember hearing of young women trying to abort their babies with hangers or other means and contracting infections and sometimes dying as a result or committing suicide because they couldn’t face their families.
Abortions did not start when abortions by a licensed physician were made legal in 1973 during the Nixon administration. They were already taking place.
We need to put our efforts into being supportive of young pregnant women to keep their babies so they won’t feel the need to abort them and not use this as the sole reason for voting for someone who is bad for the country.
It seems that we are on the brink of civil war because of this president seeming to be supportive of militia groups and so divisive. This is sounding more and more like Hitler’s Germany. Scary
Penny Fattig, Gothenburg Neb.
How we can stop bullying
The president of our nation came onstage last Tuesday night looking as tan as a strong farmer and as grim as a gladiator coming into the arena. Biden, pale by comparison, faced Trump with open hands, sort of like offering the required handshake before a wrestling match. I’m not sure about the decorum here, but I understood the need when Trump made zero effort to be gracious. First remarks from everyone, including moderator Wallace, were well-tempered but lasted about two seconds. Everything thereafter was a bully show. Trump won without getting up close and personal. Without getting up close, anyway. Biden was clearly well-prepared for a debate, but sadly, he showed more restraint than confrontation and redirection.
During almost two hours of national embarrassment, neither Wallace nor Biden successfully modified the Disgusting Bully’s disgusting bullying. I’m no expert on bullying, but, as a retired minister, I do know that “Thou Shalt Not Bully.”
How can bullying be stopped? Known preventions include such things as educating about appropriate models of conflict resolution, building self-esteem, creating rules of respectful and responsible behavior, and training for appropriate responses to bullying behavior — walking away, deflecting with humor, using I messages — “I don’t like that,” and so forth.
But all such preventative efforts depend first upon the ability to identify and reveal bullying behavior, be it someone else’s or your own. The first 2020 presidential debate did one good thing for sure. It provided practice. The rest is up to us!
Sarah Voss, Omaha
retired Unitarian Universalist minister
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