The year 2008 promises to be an historic election year. The reasons for this are numerous. Not unsurprisingly, we often cannot see the forest for the trees. Most Americans want a change, but we are not to the point that we want change-for-change-sake. In a recent barbershop discussion, my friends and I decided that we need at least another party or a way of recalibrating the focus of the two major parties we have.
All of us are aware that life inside of the Beltway evidently changes people, their perspectives, and their loyalties. The average American believes the days are gone that a Mr. Smith will go to Washington and remain true to his ideals and the priorities of the people that elected him. Therefore, we are asking ourselves the question, “Who can we trust?”
It’s disappointing that our cultural history since Nixon has taught us that most politicians cannot be trusted. In fact, things have gotten so bad that the front runners from both parties want to be seen as “outsiders.” Unfortunately, true outsiders could never mount the sophisticated campaigns that we see before us. How does an “outsider” raise 20 or 30 million dollars this early in the presidential “marathon”?
Today’s candidates are perhaps the most impressive field of contenders we have ever seen, yet the average person has been saying to himself,” There are no real choices!” For most of us our thought is that each one of them lacks the ring of sincerity. Political theatre and posturing seems to be replacing statesmanship and substantive policy development. The early campaigns seem more like episodes of a reality show or “political idol” than a systematic march towards the most powerful positions in the world. The political landscape seems to be littered with broken promises by politicians and disappearing political bases.
What does this all mean? We are becoming burned out on the political process. Like a long term drug addict, we have a much harder time “getting high” from the stuff we use.
As the pre-election clock ticks there is an increasing tension in the political air, more than ever before an incredible amount of money is being spent by those who would become the next president. It goes without saying that there is a lot riding on the next presidency.
The biggest problem we have is that none of the candidates have a true vision for where they want to take the nation. Whether Ronald Regan or John F. Kennedy had real vision or not they at least captured the heart and imagination of their respective generations.
Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.