Slightly less than a year away from the 2008 Presidential elections and many readers of this web site tell me they are already sick of the whole thing.
Little wonder. Many of the incredibly large gathering of Presidential wannabes on both sides of the political fence – a crowd by anyone’s standards – have been raising money, running ads and sniping each other for more than a year now and the level is only increasing with the primary season just 39 days away.
By the time voters cast their ballots in November 2008 this Presidential campaign season will have set many records: the longest election season on record – beginning for most candidates in 2006 – the most money ever raised, the most ever spent and the most television and Internet political ads ever purchased.
Despite campaign reform laws aimed at limiting the influence of special interest groups on elections, more such groups will spend more money and buy more ads in their attempts to influence voters than at any time in American history.
In the end, Americans will most likely elect another flawed leader who is not up to the job of leading this country out of the morass left by previous administrations and a government ruled by scandal, hidden agendas and votes for sale to the highest bidder.
America is long past the point where an election can change its course. Too many voters foolishly believed that simply putting the Democrats back in charge of Congress in the 2006 mid-term elections would end George W. Bush’s failed Iraq war and, by some miracle, restore honesty and integrity to our government.
Didn’t happen: Couldn’t happen: Won’t happen. America is a victim of its own flawed belief in freedoms that don’t exist, saviors who aren’t real and expectations that cannot be met. We put our trust in political leaders with too many shortcomings and then expect them to rise above their levels of incompetence.
Our government is dominated by leaders controlled by greed, a thirst for power and an uncontrollable lust – a dangerous combination in any situation but both deadly and volatile in politics.
Even those who venture to Washington with the noblest of intentions soon fall victim to the seductress named power. The system swallows up idealists and spits out opportunistic cynics who prey on the very people they promised to serve. I saw it happen too many times during my 40 years in journalism and politics. I fell victim to it myself, trading ethics for money and principles for power. I’ve yet to meet a human being who can resist. Such a person may not exist.
By the time the primary season is over, both parties will have picked candidates molded by professional consultants and handlers, defined by expensive ad campaigns and changed by a system that demands compliance. Voters, weary from the blitz of campaign propaganda and exhausted by the process, will walk into their voting places next November to elect a stranger to office because few will really know the truth about those on the ballot. They will know only an image crafted by media analysts, a failed media and partisan web sites.
With luck – and luck is the only uncontrollable variable left in politics – we might get someone better than the current President: Or we might not.
We won’t know until it is over: By then it’s too late.