I admit that the focus panel I assembled Thursday night was a little unorthodox.
One panelist showed up wearing only his undies.
But it was short notice. I was desperate for candid opinions. And beggars can't be choosers.
So my 9-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter would have to do.
Our goal was simple: fix all of the world's political problems in one night. From our living room. Without being interrupted by a tickle fight.
Specifically, I was trying to figure out why this year's campaign season seems so depressing.
Politics has always been nasty. And superficial. And underhanded.
But something about this year's campaign season has been getting me down more than average.
So I wanted to bring in some fresh eyes — ones less jaded than my own.
For half a Hershey's bar, they were happy to oblige.
We watched the ads, one dark and grainy accusation after another, and I asked the kids what they thought.
"Nobody in America has a job anymore," said my daughter.
"Yeah," my son agreed. "And nobody can fix it either. There are only people who want to make it worse."
My daughter noticed the ads sounded like they were voiced by the same guys who do movie trailers: deep, gravelly voiced men who talk about Mitt Romney and Barack Obama the same way they would Voldemort or the Joker.
The female narrators, on the other hand, sound exhausted. As if they've just finished a full day of work, feeding three kids and just sat down on the sofa to learn that Obama now wants to tax their me-time. "Haven't we had enough?" my daughter parodied the exhausted, overworked and frustrated women.
So, according to the campaign ads, we are generally a miserable people.
Our economy stinks. Neither candidate has any ideas on how to fix things. And in fact, when given a choice, they seem to prefer killing jobs instead.
Oh, and according to the people telling you all this, you, too, should feel ticked off, overworked and know that things are only going to get worse.