And so it comes down to this. A day that will mark the most important election in my lifetime and certainly the most consequential since 1932. The polls show Obama leading and yet... One wonders how wealthy Republican John Sidney McCain III, standard bearer for the Party that Wrecked America, could have even 41 percent support, much less higher, much less be, perhaps, competitive in Pennsylvania, Florida and Virginia.
This support for a candidate who wholly represents the ruinous governing philosophy of conservatism -- a set of ideas so discredited, exhausted and out of step with the values of most Americans that McCain's only strategy was a dishonorable campaign of despicable attacks on his opponent and riling up a hateful "base." The man who claims "Country First" picked -- or was forced to pick -- the most unqualified and dangerous vice presidential candidate in American history. Who are these supporters and what are they thinking? Has ignorance, television-induced brain damage and Republican hate finally pushed us past the tipping point? And election fraud, that determinative agent of the 2000 and 2004 elections, is an ever present danger. And the confluence of moneyed interests that fears Obama.
And yet, we have this moment, this last chance. John Adams reflected the realism of the Founders when he said democracies always eventually commit suicide. Decades later Lincoln rightly called this an experiment, not a fixed or secure order in human events. Now the American generations living will be tested at history's fulcrum.
Americans never have the "perfect candidate." I can imagine what today's Republicans would do to Lincoln; his adversaries at the time likened him to an ape or worse. Franklin Roosevelt was seen as a lightweight, a dilettante, despite his testing and suffering in the aftermath of polio. Eisenhower was slimed by the conservative attack machine, just gaining its training wheels in the form of Joe McCarthy. Behind the winning smile, Ike did McCarthy in -- and Tailgunner Joe never saw the lethal round coming. Each of these imperfect men and many more like them led America to a sunlit future that we baby boomers witnessed -- and have seen slipping away, especially through the past eight years.
George W. Bush rightly hides now. He presided over the debasement of the Constitution, the enshrinement of torture as American policy, an unnecessary and dangerously costly war waged on cooked intelligence, the failure to capture or kill bin Laden, the lethal federal incompetence in New Orleans and the worst financial collapse since the Depression -- caused by the deregulation and oligarchy he championed. As bad are the opportunities deliberately lost, especially on global warming and the limited world oil resources that even Bush admits. America has lost its moral compass, squandered precious moral capital in the world, wasted precious time. The Justice Department and federal judiciary have been poisoned, not only for the theocrats, but to give big business and monopoly an unbreakable hold on power. And John McCain would depart from these policies not one bit, except perhaps to open a new war in Iran.
All of this can be reversed. It will take sacrifice and hard work that Obama rightly said little of during the campaign. A nation living off the sacrifices of previous generations has been living in a haze. President Obama will give clarity and vision, courage and strength, the ability to articulate (!) our vast challenges and opportunities. The president can't and shouldn't do it all. But the past eight years have taught us just how much a president can do, and the danger of another George W. Bush.
For now, we have this moment. God help us that it will be enough.