I'm sort of optimistic about the direction of American politics. It seems as though the campaign of Barack Obama and, to a lesser extent, that of John McCain, are moving away from the kind of no-bullshit-barred smear-fests I've watched for the past sixteen years. I'm beginning to see a chance for a more civil and reasoned process in the future.
I don't think we're there yet. We have a ways to go. That's obvious when you read the papers, watch the tube, or peruse even my own blog posts (which, I must admit, can be tinged with a little too much vitriol from time to time). We all need to continue to grow and to continue to work toward a process that really engages important considerations without quite as much snark and malice. Almost all of us have plenty of room for improvement.
The nastier era may not come to an end with this Presidential election cycle. Things could get ugly. The candidate I see as the chief representative of a better politics, Barack Obama, may not even get his party's nomination when all is said and done. Even if he does, there's reason to think that McCain and his crew might decide to go ugly in order to seal up a win. I hope those things don't happen, but they could.
Either way, though, I'm hopeful. The Democratic primary process has given me reason to think that we're moving in the right direction. John Edwards' angrier version of traditional anti-corporate populism didn't last and the Clinton campaign continues to demonstrate the eroding effectiveness of slash and burn campaigning.
If Obama doesn't beat Clinton, Hillary will just be the last of a breed. Whatever comes next, whether it be Obama again or someone else we don't even know right now, won't come from that old school. The screaming Carvilles, the plotting Penns, the wily Wolfsons and the repugnant Roves might still find a little face time on TV, but they'll be relics on their way out. I'm hopeful about that, I really am.
If Hillary wins, she'll just be the political equivalent of 8-track tapes. They had their place, they did their thing, now they're gone. The same will be true of serious candidates. The outmoded strategies to which a few still cling today will be the worn 8-tracks you can find on yard sale tables. A funny, laughable, inconceivable technology with which no one is enamored.
Oh, and here's something sort of ironic/funny. I took a moment to find out about the last major release on 8-track tape actually was. You won't believe it. In 1988, Fleetwood Mac's Greatest Hits was offered on 8-track tape cartridges. It's recognized as the last big release of the format.
Track #2: Don't Stop. Bill Clinton's campaign theme song.
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