Friday, January 4, 2008

Once Upon A Time

To some of you, this story will sound like a fantasy made up in my imagination. I assure you from the vantage point of many years as a political watcher, it really happened.

Once upon a time, when we chose our elected officials, we voted based on who the candidate was and what he stood for. We knew who a candidate was and what he stood for because we listened to the discourse over a period of time and could make informed choices. This process gave rise to an amazing optimism about who we were as US citizens and what our country stood for.

Over time the political landscape changed. Political leaders began to think there was nothing wrong with manipulating the electorate to achieve victory. They turned to slandering their opponents and defined themselves by who their opponents were not rather than who they were. They tailored their message to pander to the interests of which ever group they were addressing and didn't even seem to notice the contradictions. If confronted with those contradictions, they had a song and dance ready to distract us from their dishonesty. They claimed they would do one thing and did the polar opposite once elected. They seemed to think winning an election had somehow annointed them with super powers.

With these changes in the landscape, it is small wonder that the voters became disenchanted. But elections prove that they were not without hope. Even after the famous Contract with America was well and truly broken, people kept hoping their elected officials would do the right thing. This is the reason for the resounding victories of 2006, which changed the balance of power in the house and senate. The balance of power changed, but it was still business as usual and the losers were the American people.

You would think by this time we would be so cynical that we would desert the whole process, and for a long time that is what many people did. In any election in recent years, only about 50% of the eligible voters participated.

Last night in Iowa, we learned that the spirit that created America is alive and well. In spite of well oiled political machines and huge monetary expenditures, Iowans on both sides of the political spectrum cast their votes for a new vision for America. I don't know if the politicians and pundits have learned anything from this. I can only say that it gives me hope.
It gives me hope that we have turned a corner and will listen to a man of honesty and integrity as he casts a vision for a new America.

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