In the movie "The Sting" part of an elaborate con game involves a staged horse race with a pre-determined outcome. The 'mark', a wealthy gangster is tricked into placing a huge bet "to win" on the horse that will actually come in second.
Lately, it's been hard not to feel like as Democrats we are being conned into betting on a non-existant horse race that the media keeps telling us is a sure thing.
The pundits are loving the Clinton - Obama horse race. Watching CNN, MSNBC or even the un-reality show that is Fox News, you would think the contest for the Democratic Presidential nomination was effectively over. All that is left is a super Tuesday coin toss between Hillary or Barak.
There is a two horse race going on. But it is a race to see who can spread the most horse dung out for Democratic primary voters and call it "change".
Now dont get me wrong, I like Hillary Clinton. I think she is brilliant. But to say she is the candidate of change is like buying a Hummer to combat global warming. Senator Clinton is the very embodiment of "establishment". A well-intentioned and accomplished establishment. But establishment never the less.
I will also confess to liking Barak Obama as well. He was my State Senator when I lived in Illinois, and I was thrilled when he was elected to the U.S. Senate. But to be honest, I keep wating for Senator Obama say what he would actually DO if elected. His speeches are stirring, uplifting and almost completely devoid of details.
I come away from listening to Senator Obama inspired, but no better informed than I was before. After nearly eight years of "we're making progress", and "doing hard work", I find Obama's generalities, stirring though they may be, more that a little disturbing.
I guess as a voter I need more than just "trust me, I am ready from day one", or "trust me, I stand for change."
The challenges facing the next President of the United States will be massive. The GOP, slow to come to terms with reality, is still far too invested in their collective denial of the complete failure of the Bush Presidency, to allow for real bipartisan cooperation.
So for any real change to take place, we will need to nominate someone who not only can win the White House, but will have big enough coat tails to give the next adminstration a filibuster proof majority in both houses of Congress.
Meanwhile, surrogates of Hillary Clinton try to quietly suggest support for Obama makes you opposed to a woman President, and surrogates of Barak Obama try to gently assert that support for Clinton makes you uncomfortable with an African American President.
What I want to know is who is going to repair the damage of the last 7 plus years. Who is going to address the impending bankruptcy of our nation due to the costs of health care? Who is going stop writing checks from an overdrawn account and then asking countries with very different agendas than ours, to lend us money to cover the debt?
Guess what? I don't just want "change" I want competence. I don't just want someone with experience, I want someone with courage. I don't just want a nominee with ambition, I want one with vision.
I don't just want to win, I want all of us to move forward.
I don't care what demographic a candidate can claim to be "connected to". I just want a President who is connected to reality. I want a President who can address the root causes of our problems, not just try to affix blame for them.
And I really don't care how you voted on, felt about or expressed yourself regarding the war in Iraq back in 2003. I just care about how you will END this war in 2008, not 2010, 2012 or 2020.
I want to watch a State of the Union Address and feel proud of our democracy, engaged in our Republic's national debate and confident in my President's committment to preserve, protect and defend our nation, our laws and our hopes and dreams.
I have tremendous respect for both Senators Clinton and Obama. But I honesty don't see either of them able to look past their desire to become President, and clearly articulate what they would hope to achieve AS President.
For the last 3 years, I have been listening to all of those who would be our next President. I have read their websites. Heard their stump speeches, and even attended their rallies. The only candidate who was been able to answer my question "What will you do to fix my country?", was John Edwards.
We cannot afford to get stung betting on a false horse race. There is simply too much at stake.
On Tuesday, February 5th I had hoped to vote for the future, I had hoped to vote for solutions, I had hoped to vote for possibilties, not just probabilities.
I had hoped to vote for John Edwards.
That is not going be case next Tuedsday. John Edwards has withdrawn from the race saying it was time for him to "step aside and let history blaze its path."
I honestly don't know who I am going to vote for now. I know friends of mine who are very passionate about Barak Obama, say the natural alternative for an Edwards voter is Obama. I am not so sure.
Part of me worries that the Democratic Party may have just handed the White House to John McCain