But, after the 160 minutes of back and forth, I turned off the TV with a few questions. If I am to believe what was being said, the citizens of this country are in a near panic over terrorist attacks and threats to our way of life. We are as fearful as we have ever been as a nation. The barbarians are pounding away at our doors. In fact, many have already slipped inside with plans for our imminent death and destruction.
We are prepared to give up some of our freedoms and privacy, even partial Internet access, to protect us from the wall of doom headed directly for us. We can even think out loud about killing the families of terrorists if that helps protect us.
Politics is about grabbing headlines, playing to people's aspirations, and solidifying support with certain constituents. Exaggeration and hyperbole, both good and bad, are standard fare. Most of us have been around the block enough times to know that what someone promises to do rarely happens if that person is elected. Usually, the process is just too complex for a sound bite to be turned into reality.
But, in my lifetime I can't remember a time when we are being told we are terrified of leaving our homes. We are willing to ignore parts of the Constitution if that is what is required to keep us safe. Even after 9/11, the presentation of a nation in full panic mode wasn't anything like what was presented two nights ago. As a child I was taught to hide under my desk at school if the Cold War turned hot, but no one seemed terribly afraid on a daily basis.
So, my questions for you are quite simple: are you living with this level of fear? Are you terrified of terrorists in our midst? Are you prepared to do most anything to make you and your family safer? Does the threat of terrorism strike close to home?
I have absolutely no doubt that the threat posed by ISIS and others of its ilk are major problems for us. I could argue that the countries in the Mideast are much more at risk and the fight is really theirs. But, as events in Paris and San Bernadino make clear, international terrorism really has no boundaries. It does not respect borders. Our citizens can be hurt or killed by those who believe in a set of rules very different from ours.
But, I am really wondering if the debate was reflective of reality. Are we ready to do anything to live a fear-free life? Do you see someone on the street or near a school who looks different from you and, if even for just a brief moment, wonder about that person's intentions? With a degree of shame, I admit that has happened to me.
If the debate on Tuesday accurately reflects the mood of the country then my writing about retirement is kind of silly. We have much bigger worries than where is the best place to vacation.
Please don't leave comments that are mostly political point-scoring attempts. Your feelings about our current president or any of the men and women wanting to replace him aren't what I am looking for.
I simply want to know if you believe we are living in a time when fear and panic are becoming the new norm. Are we literally in a battle for our way of life and the future of our nation?