You could watch the debate tonight, I suppose. If you don’t, a lot of people will accuse you of being an uninformed voter, an irresponsible citizen, and generally a bad person.
Now, I’m always ready and willing to be surprised, but I’d take out a fairly large bet against anything that happens during tonight’s 90 minute shared Trump and Clinton press conference being particularly informative, responsible, or moral. Indeed, you’d probably be spending your time better if you just make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and dance to Beyonce in your kitchen.
But a lot of people I know are putting enormous moral weight on whether one chooses to watch the debate tonight or not.
So here are my suggestions for some things you could do tonight—none of which should take much more than the 90 minutes dedicated to the debate—that actually will help make you a better informed voter, a more responsible citizen, and maybe even give you a little moral lesson or two along the way.
They’ll also give you a really good answer for anyone who asked what you had to do tonight that was more important than the debate.
- Read Mark Twain’s War Prayer. Attune yourself to the kind of rhetoric used to whip a nation up into a martial frenzy. Learn to recognize when that kind of rhetoric is being used on you.
- Watch FEE's Sean Malone’s documentary films, “Locked Out,” “No Van’s Land,” and “Farming in Fear.” Do a little thinking about the difference between what legislation claims to be doing and what legislation actually accomplishes.
- Enjoy some of my favorite political cartoons from “A Softer World.” Like this and this and this and this and this and this.
- Read James Madison on the dangers and the importance of political factions. “Complaints are every where heard from our most considerate and virtuous citizens, equally the friends of public and private faith, and of public and personal liberty, that our governments are too unstable; that the public good is disregarded in the conflicts of rival parties; and that measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice, and the rights of the minor party, but by the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority. However anxiously we may wish that these complaints had no foundation, the evidence of known facts will not permit us to deny that they are in some degree true.”
- Learn how to write an op-ed. Write one and submit it. Or try a letter to the editor. Or send something to us at FEE!
- Read some of America’s great founding documents, like the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, or the Mayflower Compact, or Washington’s Letter to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island.
- Have a look at Davy Crockett’s Speech on Electioneering. “Promise all that is asked,” said I, “and more if you can think of any thing. Offer to build a bridge or a church, to divide a county, create a batch of new offices, make a turnpike, or any thing they like. Promises cost nothing, therefore deny nobody who has a vote or sufficient influence to obtain one.”
- Check out some protest music by Frank Turner (if you don’t mind cursing), like “Riot Song,” “Something of Freedom” and “Love, Ire and Song”, and by Lindy Vopnfjord, like “After the Surveillance State,” “No Knock Raid” and “May Not be Right.”
- Watch CEI’s beautiful film of “I, Pencil” and Hans Rosling’s “Magic Washing Machine” lecture and remember that “we are perishing for want of wonder, not for want of wonders.”
- Take a walk to the Little Free Library nearest you. Borrow a book. Leave a book. Take a breath.