Chris Wallace didn’t screw up, America did

Tuesday’s presidential debate was an image of America: loud, contemptuous, irreverent, angry, and reliant on sensationalism in place of facts. What Tuesday’s debate was not, and quite frankly could not have been, was an event with the potential to change voter’s minds.

With the Guardian describing the night’s proceedings as “national humiliation” and officials domestic and foreign calling the candidates’ bickering shameful and embarrassing, it’s time to accept our situation, to recognize where we truly are.

When the two major candidates for the highest office in the land behave like children on national television, they’re doing just what they would if elected: representing us. We are the problem, not far-off politicians, not racist extremists, not anti-vaxxers or protestors. Those are the symptoms. Very, very serious symptoms, but symptoms all the same.

Each and every one of us is complicit in these issues, regardless of the side we take. We’re complicit because we haven’t loved our neighbors like we should. We’re complicit because we haven’t worked to counter the hateful rhetoric that continues to deepen divides.

Until we learn to feed off something other than hate for “the other side,” the problems that plague our nation won’t go anywhere. Until we become better citizens, we can’t expect virtue from our elected leadership.

So, don’t keep playing into the two party system that gives us such reprehensible candidates. Don’t keep acting like there’s nothing you can do. Stop to think the next time you’re about to share some form of hateful rhetoric on Facebook or Twitter.

Don’t get angry at a moderator for not “controlling the situation” in a presidential debate. Don’t get angry at your political rivals simply because they’re your political rivals. Get angry at the fully grown presidential candidates who need to be treated like toddlers. Get angry at yourself for the role you played in putting them there.

This is not a call for you to vote for Trump. This is not a call for you to vote for Biden. This is a call for you to take ownership of our situation and start acting like a responsible citizen.