It is not surprising that the debates fail to satisfy. (I admit I didn't watch them. A few minutes of Romney's wild eyes and wilder lies, and I was ready to puke, and changed the channel. But I'm responding to the post-debate coverage I've read, both in the news media and on Facebook.)
You can't squarely and honestly address the issues facing this country unless you address the issue of class; to wit, that the rich and powerful are and have been systematically looting the working class both of this country and the world. (This is the actual class that includes the working poor plus the bulk of that which we disingenuously refer to as "the middle class" in our political debates.) They have been doing this since time immemorial, generally with the full help and support of government. This was mitigated for a brief time, due to working people's revolutionary struggles and the rise of unionism in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. The post-WWII prosperity then eased the pressure (there was so much wealth to be generated, that the rich could be convinced to share). But since the mid-70s the rapine has resumed, and steadily intensified in force. Extreme inequality was a driving force behind the economic collapse of 2008, and our government (a milquetoast Presidency and a recalcitrant Congress) ensured that, while working people got some palliative measures (a stimulus package, payroll tax cuts, unemployment extensions), which actually lessened our pain compared to, e.g., Europe, the rich essentially got made whole, and certainly were not asked to pay for their crimes.
But neither of the major U.S. parties can address this issue, since they are both entirely beholden to the capitalist class. Our Constitution, and our private cash-driven electoral system ensure this. I'm not a believer in the strategy of "Down with the Elephant, Down with the Ass." While I would love to see an effective (i.e., election-winning) "Party of the Working Class," I have yet to see one with a credible plan of building mass American support. Working within the Democratic Party has been somewhat more effective in my lifetime, but frustrating also: for all the so-called "progressives" we sometimes manage to elect, we can't seem to shake the identification of the Democrats as the kinder and gentler of the parties of the elites. Money is too influential, leadership too powerful, and even our "progressives", once in office, are often too willing to go along to get along.
I don't have a solution. We need an effective, yet revolutionary politics if we are ever to break the stranglehold of wealth over our lives, and I frankly can't see where that politics is coming from. But an honest recognition of the problem has got to be the first step.
P.S. The quote above is from an old Socialist chant, "Down with the Elephant. Down with the Ass. Let's build a party of the Working Class."