Visiting with the Ryners about 11 weeks ago, I asked them about their top three issues facing America in this election. Besides mulling over the economy and Iraq, they listed "Getting the Republicans out of the White House" as one of their priorities. I must admit they have a great point.
In 2004, I felt the president deserved to lose his job for how badly he bungled the Iraq war effort. Now, I'm afraid the U.S. will suffer for years the aftereffects of this failed Administration. The Republican Party, I think, should be punished for foisting George W. Bush on us at a time when we deserved a candidate of far higher caliber. I'm not saying Vice President Gore should have been anointed in 2000. That's not how democracy works. But I felt like GOP insiders had a bet going (for a dollar, like in "Trading Places") to see if they could nominate the most unqualified candidate for president and win, based on his presidential name and good looks.
I was afraid that losing the White House in 2000 would set the Democratic Party adrift, with no direction and no leadership. I think I was right. Now, the Democrats face the unlikely prospect of losing the White House in three straight elections. Such a rejection by the electorate--12 years out of power--forces a party to rethink strategy and start in a new direction. After the last time this happened (1980-1992), the result was a centrist philosophy and the election of Bill Clinton to president. Another loss this year will weaken a party set to take over but devoid of ideas, in my opinion. I'm still voting for Sen. McCain (doesn't mean much in Illinois), but I suspect a McCain upset victory would shock the Democrats into a deep sense of loss, malaise, and soul-searching. Where would the Democrats go from there? Unfortunately, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) and Sen. Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) are the party leaders if Sen. Obama is not elected president. That's a bad sign.