During election years I tend to grow more politically active, I listen to more talk radio, I read more political publications, I discuss politics with friends. This election year is no exception. Starting with Flying High a memoir of Barry Goldwater and the 1964 election, now reading Very Strange Bedfellows which is about the unusual pairing of Nixon and Agnew in the 1968 and 1972 elections, and I'll be wrapping up my political tri-fecta with The Age of Reagan by Sean Willentz.
And it's not just the political philosophy/ideology I enjoy-- it's also discussion of the political process that I find quite intriguing. That being said, I tend to avoid the cable news networks until after the polls close. As was seen in the 2004 election when all the speculation from the exit polling had Kerry winning the election-- speculation is just that. And I figure their guess is as good as mine. Exit polling is largely dependent on the pollsters and when they do their polling. The voting habits of conservative Republicans are considerably different than the voting habits of liberal Democrats. I also feel that exit polling is more a curse than a blessing. I believe the speculation and reports of the exit polls in 2004 are what helped get out the vote for Bush. Many conservatives who might not have otherwise voted-- upon hearing that Kerry was doing so well in the exit polls may very likely have gone out to vote for Bush. In that regard, the exit polling was likely a blessing for Bush.
This morning I was listening to one of the local talk radio shows Big John & Cisco In the Morning. They were interviewing former Clinton staffer, Dick Morris. It's no secret that Morris is no friend or fan of the Clinton's. Some may say he has an axe to grind-- but given his background he also offers a unique perspective into the "belly of the beast" so to speak. Morris did make one very valid point about a Hillary Clinton presidency. George Bush has expanded the powers of the president considerably in his 8 years in office. And while George Bush hasn't (at least Morris doesn't believe he has) abused those powers, Hillary certainly would. I'm not going to split hairs over whether or not Bush has abused those powers as that's beside the point. After hearing those remarks I asked myself-- "Which of the 3 remaining candidates would be most apt to abuse the powers of the presidency?" and without hesitation my answer was Hillary... Not Obama, not McCain. Morris mentioned that Hillary brings with her to the table a list of enemies... upon mentioning that, I thought to myself, "She sounds like another Nixon. The last thing this country needs is another Tricky Dick."
To extrapolate on that... Since 1989 either a Bush or a Clinton has occupied the White House... In that time this nation has grown increasingly more divided. Who is most apt to end that division and who is most apt to perpetuate it?
To close on a somewhat more somber note... I've been eligible to vote since 1994-- since then I'm yet to see a presidential candidate I've felt truly excited about and agree with. Barry Goldwater planted the seeds of modern conservatism, Reagan had the green thumb to make it grow... and then these Bush boys came in and mowed all that progress down with their newfangled "neo-conservatism" (which is quite an oxymoron for quite the pair of ox-like morons). Where is this generation's Goldwater or Reagan? Where is that candidate-- and I don't care about that candidate's gender or race or religion-- that can excite me, that can move me, that makes me feel GOOD about voting and gives me genuine HOPE for this country's future?
I think the Republicans actually HAD that guy... But they went and botched it. In the 2004 US Senate Race. A charismatic young Republican with movie star/JFK good looks and classic conservative ideals, Jack Ryan, won the Illinois Republican primary for the senate race. Much like his Democratic counterpart, Barack Obama, he had a positive energy about him. Unfortunately, his confidential divorce records were opened and it was discovered he propositioned his then wife (actress Jeri Ryan) for sex in a public place while they were married. Why his private divorce records were opened in the first place remains a mystery to me and many others. Why it was considered such a scandal that he propositioned someone he was actually married to at the time for sex remains and even greater mystery to me... But the end result... Ryan was asked to step down and the Illinois Republican party imported religious kook Alan Keyes from Maryland to run against Obama... Keyes of course lost in a landslide and suddenly Obama's star was on the rise... And Ryan's star had been shot down.
Who knows, had we respected his privacy-- this presidential race might look considerably different right now. Ryan may not have ended up defeating Obama, but I have no doubt the race would have been MUCH closer and Ryan likely would have made quite a name for himself. And had he lost the senate race he might have run for Illinois governor in 2006 against the incumbent moron Rod Blagoievich, a man he could have defeated quite handily grooming himself as a possible VP candidate to the eventual Republican nominee...