As a system of generating governance, I am ever more disappointed with the American political process. The “team” nature of it, the destructive nature of campaigning (and that the campaign never ends these days, with everything a sound bite targeted at destroying “the other side” during any discussion), the blatant support of moneyed interests to encourage campaigns, and so forth… it’s no way to get good law, good leadership, or engender trust.
But as a spectator sport… well, we’re in the preseason for the most exciting political game in this country in my life, perhaps in the history of the country. As usual, the party out of office has no clear nominee – plus, with the party in office looking weak, every Democratic player who ever had a thought of sitting in the Oblong Office has got to think that This Is The Time.
Meanwhile, the party in power can’t run their incumbent, and unlike most such cases, the VP is unlikely to run. And while in some such cases the sitting president would annoint someone to continue his work, even if they do so the Bush administration is so tainted at this point that others in the party would be willing to put up a real challenge to the annointee. Despite some recent popularity problems, the Republicans are still the party in power, so any Republican who ever had a thought… yadda yadda yadda.
So expect big piles of candidates on both sides, pulling each other apart. Expect some unlikely souls getting more support than they would obviously get. Folks are already trying to declare who the candidates will be; never believe those folks, not a one of them would have picked Jimmy Carter as the candidate, much less the victor, this far before the 1976 election. And as much fun as a Clinton vs Rice campaign would be, neither seems likely to make it through this process. Oh, folks won’t hold Clinton’s links to her husband against her (for the primaries, most of the folks that count like ol’ Bill), but she’s been acting so far away from Democractic center on so many issues that her support won’t be that deep. I actually believe Condi when she says that she doesn’t want the Presidency, and she’s too deep in the taint of the current administration and the war to seem a likely winner. (But if I were the Republican nominee – and the odds of that are under 13%, believe me – I’d be calling her up to take the VP slot on the ticket. Give a little signal to the Bush fans that we aren’t really abandoning them, while at the same time giving a good tug on folks for whom her sex and race are appealing; she’s got enough horsepower that she’s clearly not just a novelty candidate.)
So as much as I dread the results, I feel quite certain that this game ain’t gonna be boring.