Oh to be in the Granite State this morning! For a political junkie like me, last night was what the World Series, the Super Bowl and the college ball game of one's choice and, what the hell, a Texas high school football game too, all rolled into one would be for a sports nut.
With the Iowa caucuses behind them, the Democratic and Republican campaigns are now turning all their guns on the small but mighty State of New Hampshire where the first-in-the-nation presidential primary will be held next Tuesday. I can hardly wait to channel-flip between MSNBC and CNN!
Only in America can two candidates who on paper at least could easily be written off-- one a young but bright, talented and charismatic U.S. Senator and member of a minority group (although that should not matter and may be it does not), the other a colorful and outspoken ex-governor and ex-minister-- can ride into a Heartland state and turn upside down the hopes, dreams and schemes of the alleged front runners seeking to carry their parties' banners into battle this fall to win-- and I pray with a clear margin of victory--the greatest political prize in the world.
If you like your politics served up with lots of drama, consider this succulent prose offered today by The New York Times:
The victors in Iowa, Senator Barack Obama for the Democrats and former Gov. Mike Huckabee for the Republicans, are as far from the status quo as possible. One is the son of a Kenyan father and a white Kansan mother who entered the United States Senate just three years ago. The other is a former Baptist minister who was best known until recently for losing over 100 pounds and taking on the issue of childhood obesity.
I mean, come on, you can't make this stuff up!
Whether you are one of those sad folks who disdain politics (perhaps simply because you do not accept that it is the essential lubricant that has kept this nation moving forward through over 200 hundred years of thick and thin) or you are like me someone who is engaged enough to be active in party politics and even to run for elective office, 2008 is one year to make your vice heard and your vote count.
I will pause here to state this is not a personal blog-- it exists as an extension of my profesional position as a journalist-- so I am not going to use it as a soapbox to declare my own party or candidate preferences. Anyone who knows me at all, be it in person or through the pages of FleetOwner the Magazine or by reading between the lines I pen right here can probably figure out where about I fall on the political spectrum.
That being said, I feel it is my civic duty to urge all within earshot (or is it cybershot?) to learn all you can about the candidates-- at least the viable ones!-- so you can make your own informed choice in November, if not sooner if you are lucky enough to live in a primary state.
I further urge you to at least consider getting involved in some way in the campaign of the candidate of your choice. On the local level, there are many ways to help now and on into November and all you need do is contact the campaign of your chosen candidate via their official web site. Trust me, you will be welcomed with open arms. And I can guarantee you will have more fun-- and, ultimately, far greater satisfaction-- than you will ever get waving flags and foam fingers at a bunch of sinfully overpaid guys playing games on TV.
Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey (who was a U.S. Senator both before and after being the Veep), the original "Happy Warrior"-- so nicknamed because his good cheer and sunny disposition never faded under the weight of politics-- had this to say about our political process:
“Freedom is hammered out on the anvil of discussion, dissent, and debate.”
And in deference to the lost practice of equal time, here is a quote from President Gerald R. Ford, another great American politician who served so honorably in the House and above all as our beloved accidental Commander in Chief:
"The ultimate test of leadership is not the polls you take, but the risks you take. In the short run, some risks prove overwhelming. Political courage can be self-defeating. But the greatest defeat of all would be to live without courage, for that would hardly be living at all."
The prize-- and all that goes with it-- awaits November's victor.