When the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign began about two years ago, scores of politicians from the two major political parties began throwing their respective hats into the ring and hitting the trail. Perhaps no other campaign in history has felt so ponderous and emotionally exhausting, with more lead changes than a stock-car race.
But my biggest pet peeve isn’t how methodical or mechanical these races have become. It’s much more about how the cult of personality surrounding the presidency and many of the candidates (Barack Obama and Sarah Palin commanded the most attention this year for obvious reasons). The mainstream media, and I count myself as a usually proud card-carrying member of this oft-maligned elitist organization, always misses the boat. And here’s why: there’s far too much emphasis on the job description of president when the position is merely a cog in the wheel of Democracy, albeit a pretty important one.
Not nearly enough substantive attention is devoted to how the congressional and judiciary branches of the federal government must work in concert with the executive branch. After all, there are 100 senators, 435 congressmen, nine U.S. Supreme Court justices, 15 members of the presidential cabinet and half-dozen cabinet-level administrators, including the vice president.
As in any democratic society, there always will be a fair number of crooks and cooks among the people in power. But the vast majority of these players are highly educated and talented people who probably have worked hard to get where they are in life. Some of them, dare I say, are even sincere and inspiring.
The good news is that regardless of who becomes commander in chief – even if it’s Palin, whose mere presence on the GOP ticket has outraged many folks on the left and some moderate Republicans – there are still quite a few power brokers in Washington, D.C., who play a meaningful role in establishing foreign, domestic, fiscal, monetary, social and economic policies that affect the daily lives of all Americans.
They can all respectfully agree to disagree if they wish, though respect seems to be in short supply at a time of vicious partisan politics – as does the presence of a viable third party to challenge Democrats and Republicans, both of which are far-too-easily bought by special interests. But in the end, we’re all winners when we eventually pull the lever on Election Day and cast our votes.
Now that’s what I call Democracy at work.