Monday, October 06, 2008

Now What?

Obama has staked the last few years of his life, and his entire political future, on the next 29 days. He has spoken of his campaign as essentially a bet – a bet that enough Americans are ready to vote for their own interests rather than be distracted by irrelevancies like personal smears.

It is a bet that Democrats have made repeatedly, and have lost repeatedly.

If you look back over 2000 and 2004, you can find lots of articles and columns about “Why This Time It’s Different.” Generally, the theme is that –finally! – Americans have had enough, and will ignore the smears and elect the candidate who is truly interested in helping them. The parallels to Lucy and Charlie Brown, and his never-ending belief that this time – this time – Lucy will not yank the football away from his foot at the last second, as she has done the last 27 times in a row – are unavoidable. Are the American people getting ready to yank away from Democrat’s feet the football of electoral victory?

Sure, the polling now looks strong. And Americans famously react only to crises, which the media seem to have agreed is what we’re having now. Oh, and the Democrat this time out is not the same unlikable loser who lectures the electorate on why his policies are clearly the better choice. This time, our guy is likable and able to articulate Democratic ideas in non-condescending and quite understandable manner. And their guy is more or less Mr. Burns from The Simpsons.

So one might think that this time – this time! – it’ll be different. In my heart of hearts, I think so too. (That un-killable optimism is likely part of why I incline leftward.) But I am scared that the smear-storm that’s being unleashed in key states will have enough effect to turn what should be a romp into a nail-biter – which gives the GOP the chance to cage enough votes and lose enough precinct tallies to pull off yet another victory.

In a better America, we wouldn’t need to spend so much of our social energy fighting off those whose only goal is domination and plunder of their countrymen. In a better America, we could count on each other not to give in to fear and panic, but to stand up for one another and give each other a hand when we really need it. In a better America, the GOP would nominate candidates who are happy to compete on the basis of their ideas, not on the basis of how awful they can make the other guy seem.

Tick-tock. Lucy is getting the ball ready, and in just 29 days the Democrats will take a run up to her toe expecting to kick the ball to the moon and back. Will fear prevail? Time will tell.

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