January 31, 2008
Over the past two nights, I've watched the final batch of presidential candidates debate each other.
One thing stands out:
For all of the hue and cry about Americans wanting an "outsider," a "changing of the guard," it looks more and more like the voters are going in the opposite direction.
On the Democratic side, the momentum is with Barack Obama but the machine is with Hillary Clinton. Democrats are dreamers: they are electrified by Obama, in love with him, want to believe in him. But in the end, the New Guard he represents may fall victim to the Old Guard steamroller.
On the Republican side, the momentum is with John McCain but the conservatives are with Mitt Romney. Republicans are pragmatists: they want to win, and they certainly don't want to lose to a Clinton again. The New Guard Romney represents may fall victim to the Establishment tendencies of the Republican party.
Liberals can't stand Hillary for a lot of things, primarily her Iraq vote. Conservatives can't stand McCain for reasons from illegal immigration to the Bush tax cuts to campaign finance. The Old Guard has its problems.
But liberals also are concerned that Obama isn't quite ready for primetime. And conservatives are wary about Romney's ultimate electability. The New Guard has its problems too.
But for all of the talk about Americans wanting an "outsider," the actual outsiders in the race are running second to the ultimate Washington insiders. Are we saying one thing and voting another?
Americans are pulled in two radically different directions, faced with candidates they find to be less than ideal. But Super Tuesday is still days away, and voters in both parties still have alternatives. Conservatives: Romney is still in the race. Vote for him. Liberals: Obama is a risk but a gutsy one. Vote for him.
For a year, we've been told that we want "change." Is that true? If it is, there's still time to put our money---and our votes--where our mouths are.