We felt left out of the good dialogue erupting in the comments section here at OL&L. Frankly, we can't keep up with everything everyone writes, but we did want to respond to a couple of things.
Side note: glad to see our three "contrarians" ringing in, as usual, in a contrary way (MJM, JW, BT--thanks). Lest anyone think otherwise, we appreciate what they add to the discussion here. They keep us honest and keep us from devolving into an echo chamber--you know, like the DailyKos and Huffington Post folks.
Justin, we didn't give up on Bush. Why, just a couple of weeks ago we wrote this: State of the Union (this is what happens when you don't check OL&L every day). To summarize: on balance, we think he's done more good than bad.
Regarding this loss of purpose and American division about which you speak, we ask you this: did you only become politically aware during the Bush presidency? Do you truly believe this nation was united until GWB was elected President? Do you really think the world loved us until he was elected President (subquestion: do you seriously care what the world thinks of us?)? (maybe we should have said until we went to war in Iraq)
(Segue into addressing the entire readership)
People who think that things are horrible now, that the US sucks right now, that world opinion of the US is at an all-time low, etc., etc., do not have a sufficient knowledge of American history. They forget or never knew how bad things were during WWI, the Great Depression, WWII (it wasn't always as popular as it is now), the 1960's (1968 in particular), Vietnam, the stagflation of the 1970's, Nixon, Carter, the Cold War.... we could go on.
In our opinion, these people are engaging in too much national narcissism and navel gazing.
If you think America has reached rock bottom, wake up and familiarize yourself with American history. Or, we don't know, maybe compare our history to pretty much any other country in the world. The point is, you need a little (just a little) perspective.
On balance, things have never been better than they are right now. We have our warts, But more countries are freer, more countries abide by the rule of law, more people live longer, more people are healthier, more people have more money, more people are educated--than at any time in the history of the world. Sure, bad things still happen. Duh. But don't buy into the doom-and-gloom of, well, anyone.
If you start from that premise, you will vote for a candidate who, we fear, does little more than inspire and persuade--one whose idealism (like yours) will get knocked in the head by reality. Republicans have never "been in love" with our candidates (including Reagan, well, at least not until he was dead) the way liberal progressives are. Maybe it's because we're not as idealistic and more realistic than Democrats. We don't know.
We focus more on their experience, the substance of their principles, and their voting record, because these things are tangible. We can look and see how candidate X voted and examine his record. We can analyze candidate Y's policy proposals and see how they match our priorities. We can review candidate Z's management of a state or other entity and see whether or not he was successful. All of this we do because we care less about their personality, less about their eloquence, less about their charisma than Democrats seem to. This is why insults about Bush's poor communication skills never bothered us. We don't take insults to our favored candidates personally. Democrats poked fun because it bothers them if their candidates can't speak well. Congrats, Democrats. In Barack Obama, you've got your good speakin' man.
And yes, we know a President won't be able to follow through on all his campaign promises and proposals. And we know that many of the things he says are only meant to curry favor with this or that special interest group. We don't care. Seriously, we could not care less. We know this is the game he has to play to get elected. Part of it (in the case of McCain/Feingold) is our candidates own fault. But by looking at what he has done and comparing that to what he says, we make the best guess we possibly can about the candidate's core principles. Hopefully they match ours.
At least, this way we don't get bitter and jaded when they don't live up to our unrealistic expectations.
We repeat: nostalgic notions of how America was supposed to have been are inaccurate. And no candidate, however inspiring, will ever unify and make a utopia out of America.
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