Despite all the campaign rhetoric and the candidate’s policy “distinctions”, what will this election really boil down to? Will it be differences in policy? Will it be woman over man or black over white? Will it be who supported and voted for the war and who didn’t? Will it be the experience of one candidate over another’s lack of experience? I believe that unlike any election in recent memory this one will not turn on the white papers of one candidate over another’s. While policy is important to many voters for a lot of voters if there isn’t a wide distinction this will not sway their support. It troubles me to say it, but this election will be about something intrinsic that will not be easily defined. It will be based for many on the individual voters “feelings” about one candidate over another.

     One of the problems with being in the blogosphere is that people have a tendency to believe that the majority of the country feels like they do. Many bloggers mistakenly believe that the majority of the country is as politically astute as they are and if you are surrounded by other bloggers it becomes extremely difficult to break the cycle of disbelief. The majority of the country is not as liberal, progressive, or anti-religious as the blogosphere. I think many times bloggers fall into the same trap that ensnares the Beltway crowd and that is tunnel-vision. I encounter a lot of people in my daily life that don’t blog or barely use the internet and they have little desire to do so. For many of these people elections aren’t issue driven, they try to achieve a “sense” about a particular candidate. I think they seek a level of identification and empathy from a candidate.

Richard Goodwin recalled in his riveting 1988 memoir “Remembering America“, the following about JFK and his 1960 campaign:

Looking back almost 30 years later, Mr. Goodwin summed it up this way: “He had to touch the secret fears and ambivalent longings of the American heart, divine and speak to the desires of a swiftly changing nation – his message grounded on his own intuition of some vague and spreading desire for national renewal.”

In other words, Kennedy needed two things. He needed poetry, and he needed a country with some desire, however vague, for change. bNet

    For the majority of voters not associated with the blogosphere their search is not in the details, but in the individual. Many voters will never meet the candidates in person, so they have to rely on word of mouth and buzz from family and friends. This may not be the most logical way to elect a President, but in a country with American Idol what do you expect? How else can you explain George W. Bush being elected twice? It certainly wasn’t based on intelligence, issues, or experience. And while it may be argued that George Bush is precisely the reason we should not elect Presidents in this fashion, I believe the practice will continue into the foreseeable future. This may be a bad omen for Barack Obama.

    Because George Bush has done such a monumental job of screwing up there could be a backlash of voters weary of a candidate lacking experience or exacting details on policy. But there doesn’t appear to be much recoil according to the polls and the endorsements that he continues to receive. The experience factor didn’t seem to get much traction for the Clinton campaign, much to the chagrin of Bill Clinton and the detailed policy argument either, because no one had more detailed policy statements than John Edwards. The supporters of Barack Obama are connecting on a more personal level than previous campaigns. To many in the blogosphere this is a frightening development and cause for concern. The detractors feel that it is naïve to rely on one’s intuition or a “sense” of the candidate. I mean let’s face it how often have we’ve been misled or flat out wrong relying on this criteria? But yet what they ignore is how many times we have been right about people based on the same criteria.

    Another big concern that is often expressed is that supporters of Obama are hoisting onto the candidate their own unattainable and impractical expectations. The argument is that a one-term Senator without the benefit of years of experience cannot hope to change years of entrenched warfare or understand the complexities of the Washington bureaucracy. He doesn’t nor do his supporters understand that change in Washington is done in infinitesimal degrees, according to these people it is a pipe dream to believe otherwise, a “fairytale” if you will. This I think explains the difference between Obama’s supporters and the supporters of the other campaigns; they are willing to dream beyond what is possible and to believe in something that has never been done. Is it a fairytale or a pipe dream to believe in these things? Maybe, but if we hadn’t dreamed impossible dreams a lot of the things we now take for granted would not be here.

Loretta Sanchez, who has been in Congress for 12 years, twice as long as her sister, scoffed at what she implied was her sister’s immaturity and lack of gratitude. “Her one comment was, ‘He reminds me of John F. Kennedy.’ I was like, You weren’t even born when he died!” she said, laughing. “She was tilting at windmills, with stars in her eyes and her feet off the ground.”

“My sister benefited from so many things the Clintons did,” Loretta Sanchez continued, mentioning student loan legislation. Obama supporters “don’t understand what it took to get all those things done.” NY Times

    It’s not that they don’t understand, it is just that they want more. There was so much left undone and still not getting done. Just because they are grateful for the past doesn’t mean they have to get stuck there. Life has brought new challenges that are going to require new solutions. These solutions must come from all of us dreamers and realists alike, Democrats, Republicans, and Independents, and the old and the young. All of us committed together cannot be denied regardless of the dirty tricks and Rovian tactics used against us.

“Excellence can be obtained if you:

…care more than others think is wise;

…risk more than others think is safe;

…dream more than others think is practical;

…expect more than others think is possible.”

The Disputed Truth