As President Obama and Governor Romney get ready to square off in their first debate, the pundits eventually will declare one candidate the victor, but will the American people win? Will the candidates authentically address underlying concerns on people’s minds? Based on my new book, The Work of Hope, we’ve created a debate watching tool to help you sort what you hear and think – and not just about the debate, but about what kind of country we want.
By now we’ve all heard the candidates’ talking points, but what about a real conversation that speaks to people, their lives, and their concerns. In The Work of Hope – which is based on a series of in-depth conversations with Americans from across the country – people told me they feel they live in a Tower of Babel – without a sense of possibility, unable to come together and get things done, and exhausted by the public recrimination and acrimony that hold our public discourse hostage.
But in my travels I also discovered a deep yearning among Americans to kick-start a new direction in the nation, a new sense of hope and possibility – turning outward toward their community with more openness and humility, compassion, and concern for the common good. And this new path, they say, will take shape only through actions that start small and local, between and among people, in a place where they can begin on a human scale.
At the heart of what I learned is that people want to restore their belief in themselves and each other that we can come together and get things done. This will require setting out on a new path forward.
This week, as tens of millions of us watch the presidential debate, at issue is whether the candidates will speak to people’s real aspirations and concerns, or if they simply trade talking points, barbs, lofty rhetoric and an assortment of focus-group tested zingers. That’s why we’ve created this debate watching tool – it will help you sort out the debate and what matters.
Of course, much of the work necessary to create this new path forward will have to happen beyond Washington, D.C. and our state capitals. It will be generated directly in our communities. That’s why this new tool is relevant not only to this debate, but to our own efforts in our own communities. So, please, take advantage of it and use it as part of your work, too!
I’ve often said recently that over the course of this campaign season and beyond, I will continue to raise issues that go to the heart of people’s desires to find ways to believe in ourselves that we can get things done, together. We need a different conversation in the country about how we will create a new path forward.
Let’s do this together.
Download the debate tool and join me for a live chat on Twitter on Wednesday night #2012election #workofhope.
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