Sonny Fulks
Sonny Fulks
Managing Editor

Sonny Fulks is a graduate of Ohio State University where he pitched four varsity seasons for the Buckeyes from 1971 through 1974. He furthered his baseball experience as a minor league umpire for seven seasons, working for the Florida State League (A), the Southern League (AA), and the American Association (AAA). He has written for numerous websites, and for the past fourteen years has served as columnist and photo editor for The Gettysburg Magazine, published by the University of Nebraska Press, in Lincoln Nebraska. His interests include history, support for amateur baseball, the outdoors, and he has a music degree from Ohio State University.


I listened for a while, I really did.  Hoping to hear something from this week’s Dem debates that would tell me something about what the average American would want to know about the alternative candidate for the 2020 election.  Here is what I heard.

Your first impulse might be…it’s a slow news day in area sports if I’m writing about my impressions of the this week’s Democrat debates.

Or, some of you who write in and say, “Just stick to sports” might not read at all beyond this point.  That’s OK, too.

Or, some of you might be as curious as I was this week to actually hear what the alternative to Donald Trump in 2020 might look and sound like – what that person might offer in terms of an alternative vision for the United States of America going forward.  By all accounts the ratings were pretty good,  so there must have been others like me.

Some, I’m sure, watched out of desperation, owing to that segment of people who believe that come hell or high water we just have to get rid of Trump in 2020.  I’m sure there were others who think beyond the hysteria, listening to hear acknowledgment from at least someone on stage willing to admit that there are good things with the country, and how to build upon that.

Unfortunately, taking the thinking man’s approach, I heard more of the former than the latter.  Understand that I’ve never been a drum beater for Donald Trump.  I like some of his policies on deregulation, on things that boost the economy, and on making the rest of the world respect the United States as more than just easy mark;  but at the same time I get tired of the drama.  Sometimes I wish he’d turn down the volume and just be president.

So yes, I really was looking for something different, a potential alternative this week.  I think we all do with each presidential cycle.  But what I heard – what my first impression was – was twenty people yelling over each other, desperate for air time…quantity of image over quality of image.

I heard a very large concession to a fact that plagues modern America.  I heard more promise of “what government is going to do for you”, while nothing – not one word from any candidate – what about John Kennedy said back in 1960.  Do you remember? “Ask not what your country can do for you.  Ask what you can do for your country.”  Those were the defining words of Kennedy’s presidency – a good and logical suggestion, and not empty narrative.  For in this day it’s one individual group after another screaming about their rights and how they’ve been screwed, rather than appreciation for how much better it is in America over other parts of the world.  And still, on Tuesday and Wednesday, it seemed every candidate was reassuring that government needs to be bigger, do more, and will.  I think, had he been there, someone would have kicked Kennedy in the shins.

And to that end…some wild, wild, wild suggestions.  It brought to mind the old movie title, It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World when candidate Julian Castro said that trans-gender men should have the right to federal abortion funding.  Now does that sound like what you can do for your country?

Another impression was that every one of the candidates, to some degree, condemned capitalism and blamed the problems of their constituency on the rich and successful.  Kamala Harris denounced Wall Street and it’s influence on the economy by saying, “Wall Street’s fine for the rich, but everyone can’t be a part of Wall Street.”  But yes they can.  From the time that I got my first job pumping gas during high school it was demanded that I put $5 a week into an account with the old Edward Jones Office on Ash Street, in Piqua – mutual funds.  That money’s been there ever since, and it’s done quite well for the last 50 years.  Just $5 a week!

As to capitalism, a lot of them seem to forget that the reason America is as great as it is owes to the accomplishment of men like John D. Rockefeller and Henry Ford, men with the ‘rocks’ to take the business risks that provided jobs and opportunities for untold millions of future Americans.  Yes, trickle-down does work.  But it does take an investment, sound decision making, and a personal commitment to the discipline of being successful.

I heard a lot of how we should bring Wall Street to its knees, we’re going to tax the upper 5% to the extent of evening the income gap – free this, free that – and Bernie Sanders’ promise that everyone would, in fact, pay more in taxes to ensure Medicare for everyone.  The problem is (or at least to the thinking person), is those individuals and those corporations can simply take their money and go home.  Meaning, companies don’t have to invest in job creation, in expansion, and the creation of new wealth essential to paying for a new culture of ‘free’.  And then what?

I heard a lot of pandering, of course.  You do with every modern debate.  Harris has said repeatedly that she identifies with the modern African-American struggle in America, because she, too, is black.  But she’s not African-American.  She’s the child of Polynesian-Indian parents, a mere technicality…unless you’re a thinking person and fact check what you hear.  And this IS a day of fact checking.

I also heard condemnation of Joe Biden, and his statement of how he worked as a young senator with his constituents in the senate back in the day for the sake of equality legislation, because that’s how you got things done.  You had to work together!  Well compare that to this day when no one works together, and creates the present state of frustration with government.

I heard a lot of things, frankly.  You heard them, too.  And I admit that at one point I turned it off – overload.  Too much yelling, too many promises, and not enough John Kennedy.  I admit that it was the first time under such bright lights for some, but still, I wanted to be impressed.

So go ahead, take your shots for my even bringing it up.  Anyone could have, but as yet…nobody.  Which leads me, and some of you, to wonder if anyone’s thinking through any of this?

And…did you like your first impression?