Voters Boost Obama Into Serious Contention

            Since Super Tuesday, Barack Obama has swept a lot of low turnout, geographically dispersed caucuses and primary contests.  Voters are doing a good job of performing due diligence on the candidates.  The political parties, the media and even the candidates themselves like to depict election contests as sport.  Who wins, who loses, who’s ahead, who’s behind.  The voters, however, care more about the policies and programs of the government and how they are personally affected, regardless of who wins.

            Before becoming president, it is important for the voters to see how the candidates behave, both when they are up and when they are down.  Hillary Clinton has been the frontrunner for more than a year.  By boosting Obama, the voters are getting a chance to look at Hillary as she suffers her own adversity, not just the vicarious hits of her husband.  By nudging the Illinois Senator into the lead, voters have to take him seriously and really ask themselves if they want this person to be president.  It is one thing to be a successful insurgent candidate against a frontrunner, it is quite another to be that frontrunner.  Now voters will pay far more careful attention to Obama and his positions than they have in the past.  Now, he has to seal the deal.

Letting Everyone Choose

            There is another reason the race is still neck and neck.  Voters know the nation is in a difficult position: the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have bankrupted the country.  Returning to peace and prosperity will not be easy.  All hands are needed on deck.  Voters are working together to make this decision.  By keeping the race open, the voters are giving themselves time to make a decision while simultaneously giving all the voters a chance to be heard.  It is not in the interest of the voters of New Hampshire, nor the voters in the 22 Super Tuesday states, to foreclose the options of the later voters in Pennsylvania, Texas and Ohio.  The media should be trumpeting this cohesion, the fact that the voters are working together to let everyone in on making this decision.   But because their power stems from manipulating and disenfranchising the voters, this obvious positive development is absent from news analysis.

Changing the Vice-President

            Both Obama and Clinton are promising change, but neither seems to want to change the method of choosing the Vice-President.  After the disaster of having Dick Cheney as Vice-President, the voters are no longer willing to leave the filling of this important post to the back room deals and political consideration of the past.  By keeping the race neck in neck, the tens of millions of voters are trying to give Hillary and Obama a simple message.  This is the ticket.  Whether it is Obama-Clinton or Clinton-Obama is yet to be determined; but if you want to win, this is the ticket.  Similarly, the Republican ticket is going to be McCain – Romney.  It fulfills all the standard considerations, east-west, senator-governor.  That is the only weakness of an Obama-Clinton ticket, both have strong roots in Illinois; but Bill Clinton, by choosing Tennessean Al Gore as his running mate showed that in an age of television and internet, geographical distribution is no longer so significant.  And Bush and Cheney were both from Texas, in fact, a clear violation of the Constitutional prohibition, but Cheney “moved” back to Wyoming so he could be Bush’s running mate.  Of course, neither Obama nor Hillary want to be Vice-President.  Guess what?  Too bad. 

Changing the Inauguration

            One reason Hillary and Obama have failed to seal the deal is that although they both talk about change, neither talks seriously about changing the structures of politics and government, and neither conveys the sense of urgency that is felt by the voters.  The United States is at war, barely keeping even in Iraq and sliding backwards in Afghanistan.  The government and individuals are broke: people are losing their jobs and their homes.  Yet, Hillary Clinton talks about being ready on Day One, as if Day One was January 20, 2009.  No.  Day One is today.  It is today she needs to demonstrate, in the absence of having been a Governor like her husband, that she is an executive.  She and Obama need to announce their prospective cabinets now.  They need to call for the transition of power to the new administration to take place, not on January 20, 2009; but on November 5, 2008.  Just as Franklin D. Roosevelt, in the midst of a national crisis, moved the Inauguration up from March to January, in the age of nuclear missiles, suicide attacks, and internet communication, the voters can not leave George W. Bush, who lost the 2000 election, as Commander-in-Chief for ten weeks to get the nation into a war with Iran.

            The transition to a new administration needs to take place before the election in November, with the advice and consent of the tens of millions of voters who are killing themselves contributing time, money and effort in choosing the new president.  Then, the country will be ready to move on Day One, the day after the election, November 5, 2008.  Given the appointment power that was put in place in the wake of Kennedy’s assassination and that has only been used for political purposes, to force Nixon from office, all that would be necessary is for Cheney to resign, on Election Night.  The next day, the existing congress would come back into session, the winner of the election, whether McCain, Clinton or Obama, would be sworn in as Vice-President and then Bush would resign.

            The truth is that the race is still wide open because the two party system and the candidates it has produced are not up to the needs of the moment.  On this 199th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth, it is well to contemplate, not only the outrage of the President’s Day Holiday that subsumes celebration of Washington’s and Lincoln’s birthdays into that of Franklin Pierce, James K. Polk, Rutherford B. Hayes, James Garfield Gerald Ford and George W. Bush.  Lincoln demonstrated that in times of crisis, inspirational leadership tackles difficult issues head on with innovative solutions.  The system is broken, but none of the leading presidential candidates are willing to admit it, although it is obvious to all the voters.  That is the fundamental problem in this election.  And the commercial media, that should be pushing them, are in on the dirty deal because they are getting the tens of millions of advertising dollars the desperate voters are contributing.  Ninety-five percent of the media in the United States is owned by six profit-making corporations.

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Contact: Joshua Leinsdorf