Both parties are showing remarkable strength in terms of fundraising and political activism, which points to a healthy, robust democratic process that has kept this country vibrant, strong and free for more than 225 years. I have interviewed dozens of candidates and party officials who talk of record-breaking volunteer participation in their campaigns, and early forecasts say that voter turnout at the polls will be unusually high for a midterm election. Elections can be messy things, and politics often is a nasty business, but out of it usually comes some kind of temporary, if unsatisfactory, resolution of our disagreements. Americans say they dislike the negative advertising that comes with modern-day campaigns, but if you read early American political history -- as reported by David McCullough in his best-selling book, "John Adams" -- you will find that not much has fundamentally changed since then.
The fact is that Americans like a good political brawl. Tempers may flare, unfair charges are hurled back and forth, and sometimes dirty tricks are played. But in the end, the whole political ritual comes to a merciful and welcome conclusion when it is all over but the voting.
Cynics and pessimists say the democratic system is broken and needs radical reforming. Some want to impose stricter government limits on how much you can give to the candidate of your choice, or ban contributions altogether.
Others want to further regulate or prohibit when independent political committees can run TV ads that criticize the voting records of incumbents. We had a taste of this in the disastrous McCain-Feingold campaign-finance law (otherwise known as the incumbent-protection act), and the result is that congressional incumbents are harder to defeat than ever. That is something our Founding Fathers would not have wanted.
Yet in spite of all its faults, great and small, I still think our present system remains the best and fairest way to settle our political differences. It could be worse. Consider Iraq.