Saturday, April 12, 2008

Campaign 2008 - I Loathe Polls, but ...

I do not like polls. In many ways they are like any other kind of statistic, they can be interpreted differently. Political polls are particularly unreliable because many people are private about their voting practices. I sometimes think that Americans lie to political pollsters to jerk their chain. Elections are the only time when We The People have the opportunity to exercise our power. I love the notion that we like to do it by secret ballot without having the results announced in advance by the media. Misleading pollsters is an opportunity to have a bit of innocent fun with the media.

Anyway, I usually read polls with a huge grain of salt, or not at all. This week I noticed a headline that was interesting, and made me think. Apparently in projecting the current results out to the general election, the pollsters think that Clinton would do better against McCain than Obama, although McCain would probably beat either of them. Here's one version of that data.

Hmmmmm. General wisdom from the letters to the editor and the blogs seems to be that the next president will probably be only a one termer due to the current state of the union (i. e. FUBAR = fucked up beyond all recognition). General wisdom holds that the Current Prez will crawl back under some big ol' rock in Texas and his successor will get the blame for wrecking the country (sort of like Herbert Hoover took the blame for the Great Depression).

The main job for our Next Prez will be to begin the long process of digging us out of the ditch America has fallen into. Since We The People are such a bunch of mindless Eejits who can't remember anything that happened before breakfast, we will blame Next Prez for all the damage that the Cheney Administration has done to our wonderful country (not to mention our Mother Earth and other countries who have had the misfortune of pissing us off or being our allies). The Next Prez will have the hard and bad job of making America face up to what we have done to our country. The Next Prez will probably not have high poll ratings from about five minutes after he/she delivers the Inaugural Address.

Meaning? Meaning anybody who WANTS the job should probably be packed off to a mental institution so Nurse Ratched can take really good care of them.

Nevertheless, for some reason three otherwise sane people actually want the job. Three people each of whom appears to sincerely desire to lead our country back from the edge of the Abyss where we now stand. They each have a different understanding of where we are and what is and is not appropriate for the government to do about it, therefore, they have different plans for what to do next. I agree with some of their positions, and disagree with others but any of them would be a huge improvement over what we have now.

The fact of the matter is, I could go to the polls tomorrow and cast a vote for any of them. I would walk away from that vote absolutely certain that it would be good for America, and, perhaps, the world.

In a way when I look at our country, I feel a lot like I did in 1974, when Nixon resigned and Ford became president. Watergate had torn the country apart. People were raw and exhausted. When Nixon got on that helicopter and flew away from Washington, it was as though America let out a coast-to-coast sigh. Poor Gerald Ford walked into an unholy mess and did his best to begin the healing process. He made a speech which even today makes me weep. It is simple, heart-felt, eloquent... and deeply painful to read even after all these years

He said, in part:

My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.

Our Constitution works; our great Republic is a government of laws and not of men. Here the people rule. But there is a higher Power, by whatever name we honor Him, who ordains not only righteousness but love, not only justice but mercy.

As we bind up the internal wounds of Watergate, more painful and more poisonous than those of foreign wars, let us restore the golden rule to our political process, and let brotherly love purge our hearts of suspicion and of hate.

In a very real sense, I believe our next president will take office under very similar circumstances. We are a country at war. At war with others (whether or not we should be, we are in that one until we can figure out how to get out) and at war with ourselves. It makes me want to laugh to say this but: we need a Gerald Ford. We need a one-term president who will send us to time out in order to cool off before rolling up our sleeves and doing the hard work of getting America back on track. We need a president who will reassure us. We need a president who will inspire us to feel good about America by restoring our vision of the "Land of the Free and the Brave." We need a president who will then inspire We The People to get busy and start putting things back to rights.

Sounds an awful lot like we need McCain, don't it?

While I abhor his stand on the war and a lot of other things, I'm thinking, it might not be such a bad thing to have four years of McCain in the White House, waving the flag and making us feel good about America, encouraging us to take on the hero's challenge of taking back our land from the people who would destroy our freedoms and sell our government to the highest bidder. The next four years, or at least the next two or three years, will not be about programs and legislative initiatives. They will be about restoring our vision and our hope. Senator McCain's patriotism, independent-mindedness, cantankerousness, willingness to work with people "across the aisle" and his integrity may be just what we need while we catch our collective breath.

Meanwhile, Senators Clinton, Obama, and Edwards and others can go back to the Senate and work their asses off on legislation to get things back on track and lay the groundwork for future change. [Suggested item 1: repeal the Patriot Act. Suggested item 1a: Health Care Reform. Suggested item 2: eliminate the department of Homeland Security. ] The Dems could spend the next four years laying the groundwork for an eight-year administration beginning in 2012 which would focus on forward-looking legislative initiatives.

That seems reasonable to me. The problem is that it hinges on:
(a) America focusing on a long term goal; and,
(b) Democrats working together.


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