Feb. 1 Editorial

Greg Parlier

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Illustration by Joey Taravella.

Some may be aware of the nationally televised debate that took place at UNF Jan. 26. Some may have even watched. But unless you tuned in to hear an oral onslaught from four people vying to sound the smartest – or more accurately, to make everyone else sound the most foolish – you were probably disappointed.

Let’s face it, these debates resemble high school debate club more than a national discussion about ways to improve the country. After all, CNN and the other media giants run them, so naturally, it’s all about ratings. And they think, maybe accurately, that we care more about petty fights between candidates than issues and policies. It makes for good TV, anyway.

So the hope that we could get actual answers, or even just realistic proposals from candidates at these debates is long lost. But you would think they would at least try.

For example, whatever happened to that little topic of education? You know, that thing that makes leaders what they are, elevates countries out of poverty and made the United States a world leader? That thing that is the entire purpose of the very universities where most of the debates are held?

Education was addressed more by Pink Floyd in 1979 than in the two Florida debates meant to be a discussion of how to improve the country amongst potential leaders of the free world.

In his defense, Rick Santorum did broach the topic in a speech at the First Baptist Church of Naples Jan. 25, so it wasn’t completely ignored.

“I’ll bet you there are people in this room who give money to colleges and universities who are undermining the very principles of our country every single day by indoctrinating kids with left-wing ideology,” he said. “And you continue to give to these colleges and universities. Let me have a suggestion: Stop it.”

He went on to suggest that higher education is “indoctrination” by the Obama Administration to hold power in America.

He’s figured it out. Education is the path to power. It’s not about progress, helping kids be as good as they can be or the advancement of technology and innovation. It’s all about power.

Santorum may have fallen off the deep end, but at least he talked about it. Now we know where he stands, and we can take that into consideration at the voting booth. Romney, on the other hand, doesn’t even list education as an important topic on his website. Yet Florida has found him fit to take on President Obama in the general election.

We know where Obama stands after his state of the union address, saying that higher education should be available to all, regardless of economic standing. He appealed to students again days later in a speech at the University of Michigan, calling higher education an “economic imperative”.

He went to a university and talked about education? What a noble thought.

Granted, it’s the moderators that pick these debate topics, so we should be fair. Wolf Blitzer should take in his surroundings a little more wisely. Blitzer raved about the UNF campus all week on his show, but failed to mention the topic those who call it home care most about when everyone was watching.

Instead, he focused on trade relations with Cuba, the Israel/Palestine relationship, and space. All fair, Florida-conscious topics, but education was left out.

It’s not enough to go to college campuses to win the young vote. You must actually speak to them about things that matter to them as well. Or maybe, in the case of Santorum, it’s wise to keep your thoughts to yourself.

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