At long last, we’re entering the home stretch of an extraordinarily long Presidential campaign. Perhaps what’s most remarkable is how consistent it has been from the start. Barack Obama entered the race with a message of change. Two years later, and despite a deft issue shift from Iraq to the economy, it remains his central theme. On the other side, his principal opponents have been equally consistent. Hillary Clinton ran on experience to the degree that when she finally sought the mantle of change-agent it wasn't credible. Apparently having learned nothing from observing the Democratic contest, John McCain opted for the same message, making the same mistake. Like Clinton, McCain, burdened by underlying message out of sync with the current environment, has had to constantly rearrange the deck chairs on what I remain confident is a sinking ship. Clinton made major strategic mistakes and McCain has repeated them. In some ways, they are so much alike, each viewing the Presidency as almost a birthright. Clinton paid her dues at the side of her husband, McCain not only as a POW but has a third generation family warrior. Their shared feelings toward the “upstart” with the audacity to hope read on their faces with each encounter from her many Democratic debates to his this past Wednesday night.
Barack Obama says we should not be cocky and he is right. There is much to do and being for him is not enough. Everyone must vote. That acknowledged, I continue to believe his victory will be decisive, perhaps of landslide proportions. This is, and has always been, a watershed election. Throughout history the party in power has never prevailed in the face of either an unpopular war or a bad economy. We have both in spades. If you need any further confirmation, consider that an astounding 90% of Americans think we’re headed in the wrong direction. That alone suggests an appetite for change. Bill Clinton famously said, “the era of big government is over”. Considering the events of the past weeks, I’ll let you judge how accurate was his characterization. What seems clear me in 2008 is that era of Ronald Reagan is over.
Just as Communism turned out to be a bust, unregulated free markets have brought too many of us to the brink of bankruptcy. The Reagan Revolution has run its course and been discredited. Some of the intellectual conservatives are running for the hills, loudly distancing themselves from the ideology they so confidently espoused. Some are actually supporting Obama. They claim no conversion, but a disagreement over tactics. Right, just as McCain’s laughable dissent from the war he wholeheartedly supported is over tactics not substance. “We’re winning, my friends.” The fact is that all that pompous absolutism that we’ve heard from the Right in the past decades is an Emperor without Clothes, a sham exemplified by faulty foreign and domestic policy. Perhaps a percentage of the population remains fooled – working people and small business types who still think Republicans have been good for them or the Jews who claim (inexplicably) that Bush has been good for Israel. But I think the majority of us know the score, perhaps not all can articulate it but we certainly can feel it.
Is it time for a change? You bet it is, and change is coming on November 4.