Has anybody been following the pajama party that is the Presidential primary season? Anybody besides policy wonks and lobbyists and special interest groups, I mean. And all of New Hampshire, because I'm not sure if there is anything else to do up there while they live free and/or die. The rest of us, I mean, do any of us really care right now, if we care at all? I am vaguely interested, but only because I have a very expensive and underused bachelor's degree in political science. From what I gather, no one really cares, in part (maybe a big part, but my poll sample of one person isn't really anything to go by statistically — I assume, because I decided to skip statistics while getting that very expensive degree) because no one knows what's going on. I'm sure pols and their people live and die on each twist of the news cycle and they feed on all the he said/he said/she said, but the rest of us don't have the time. And after nearly 40 years of salacious scandals, unpopular wars, and general disappointment, I'm not sure how many of us really care.
Which is sad, considering how much power has been gathered into one office. Has one man (and let's not kid ourselves - how many non White Anglo-Saxon Protestant Presidents from somewhere in the East - north and south - have we had in our 200+ years of statehood?) ever held so much power? Especially one who is elected by another group of people? On an episode of The Daily Show last week, some British author stated that the British monarchy was still necessary because it provided a figurehead of national identity that could inspire the nation, regardless of what was going on politically. Here in the States, we decided to make our head of nation the same as our head of state (if you're wondering what the difference is, technically a nation is a peoples who share a common group identity, a la the Kurds, and a state is a political entity, and while often the two overlap such that we can use the two words synonymously, sometimes it doesn't — see Chechnya, the Kurds, and Hitler's justification for annexing Czechoslavakia's Sudetenland). Which means if the Electoral College craps it up, then our national identity, how we view ourselves and how the rest of the world sees us, could go down the tubes. Personally, I would like the person with their thumb on the nuclear button at the very least to be able to pronounce "nuclear" correctly.
I was reading this Time magazine article on Al Gore, and I'm struck by this quote: "I'm trying to say to you, be a part of the change," he told the crowd. "No one else is going to do it. The politicians are paralyzed. The people have to do it for themselves!" He was getting charged up now. "Our democracy hasn't been working very well — that's my opinion. We've made a bunch of serious policy mistakes. But it's way too simple and way too partisan to blame the Bush-Cheney Administration. We've got checks and balances, an independent judiciary, a free press, a Congress — have they all failed us? Have we failed ourselves?" Apparently, he goes more in depth on our failing federal republic in his new book, which I am much more interested in getting than his other books. And frankly, I hope Al Gore doesn't run for President, because the only way he can win is to dirty his hands and by then he'll just be like all the others and no one will want him anyways. And after sixteen years of living between two political extremes and two charismatic leaders, we don't really need new inspiration or more dogma. We need someone who can come in and clean up the mess and straighten out all the paperwork and streamline the process. We don't need a hero figure to lead the way; we need a middle manager to give us some structure.
We don't need Al Gore; we need Michael Dukakis. Because he meets most of our needs in an adequate fashion. No more, no less, and that seems to be the most we can ask.