Quad-City Times presidential debate watch party

When: Doors open at 7 p.m. Debate from 8-9:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 16

Where: Figge Art Museum, 225 W 2nd St, Davenport

Cost: Free. Cash bar and light snacks.

Now that both parties have trotted out sexual assault victims as political props, I’m not sure how much worse it can get. I’m not sure how much further away we can get from discussions of policy or how much more this election can alienate moderate voters. Nothing would surprise me at this point and the three weeks between now and Nov. 8 is a lifetime in politics.

I wonder how long it will take us to recover from this one. It feels less like an election and more like a culture war. We can’t see each other anymore. We can’t talk anymore. We can’t understand each other.

The interesting thing is – in many non-presidential races -- intellectual conservatives and liberals aren’t that far apart on some of issues. This week, during editorial board meetings with candidates, I asked both Republican U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley and Democratic U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack the same question about Medicaid reimbursement. Professionals cite low reimbursements as one of the biggest obstacles to solving Iowa’s mental health crisis. Grassley and Loebsack, one day apart, answered my question with the same set of solutions. There was a glimmer of hope to hear a Democrat and a Republican on the same page about something so important. Granted, it’s not a perfect equivalent because the men aren’t running against each other.

Elsewhere, there’s little place for common ground.

This election has weakened the foundation of both parties. It has sidelined moderates. It has ended friendships. The rhetoric has become so frenzied, it’s impossible to have a real conversation over the screaming.

This week, I found a great sense of relief to hear people arguing over whether or not Bob Dylan should have received the Nobel Prize for Literature. It was a nice distraction.

This election is almost over. We have a couple dozen 24-hour news cycles and one more presidential debate to watch. The Quad-City Times editorial board invites Quad-City voters, battered that we are, to come to the Figge Art Museum and watch the debate with us on Wednesday, Oct. 19. The editorial board will be there, including Editorial Page Editor Jon Alexander, Publisher Deb Anselm and myself.

The debate is 90 minutes long and runs from 8-9:30 p.m. We’ll open the doors an hour before the debate starts for socializing. There will be a cash bar and light snacks. We’ll also offer the opportunity for discussion and socializing for an hour after the debate. It should be an interesting chance to think through what we heard, offer each other insight or – in the case of this election – some moral support.

This week, I had a phone conversation with my grad school advisor and he described his reaction to the debate as a mix of horror and fascination. He said he hates every minute of it, but can’t look away. That’s probably how many of us feel.

I’ve run out of new thoughts to have about this election or interesting things to say about it. Unfortunately, the thing about roller coasters is you can’t get off, even after it makes you sick. You can’t get off until the ride is over.

Until then, we can support each other through the home stretch. I hope to see you on Oct. 19 at the Quad-City Times final presidential debate watch party.

Autumn Phillips is executive editor of the Quad-CIty Times and qctimes.com. aphillips@qctimes.com; 563-383-2264; on Twitter @autumnedit.