It was to be the year of change, of new ideas, a new politics.
Yet, as of today, it appears the Republican Party will be led into the future by a Beltway favorite of the media and Washington insider who has spent the last quarter of a century on Capitol Hill.
And the Democratic Party appears about to build a bridge to the past by nominating the spouse of the last Democratic president who has herself been a Washington insider for almost 20 years.
With two-thirds of the nation saying the country is on the wrong course, the two parties are offering candidates both of whom played major roles in setting that course. And neither probable nominee has advanced ideas to deal with the crises America faces, nor even shown any great awareness that the country is in crisis.
The first crisis is fiscal, with the Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid costs about to break the bank as the baby boomers reach early retirement. Add the other entitlement programs, defense and interest on the debt, and this consumes perhaps 90 percent of the budget.
No one is proposing cuts in any major component of the budget. Indeed, Mrs. Clinton is promising universal health care and McCain is promising an expansion of the military. Both favor a stimulus package of roughly $150 billion. As our savings rate is about zero, where are we going to borrow the money for all this?
A second crisis is financial. With the economy in danger of seizing up, the Fed has cut interest rates from 4.25 percent to 3 percent in two weeks. This has sent the dollar plunging again. A sinking dollar means surging prices for oil and all those foreign manufactures to which we are now addicted.
As the dollars pour out, nations have started to spend their dollar hoards to buy up this country at the fire-sale prices being offered in the global marketplace.
A third crisis is strategic. With an army of half a million and a Marine Corps a third that size, we are ending our fifth year of war in Iraq and entering the seventh year in Afghanistan. With the Taliban and al-Qaida now re-established and threatening Pakistan, what will it require in blood and treasure to prevent a strategic disaster there?
Mrs. Clinton is committed to a withdrawal from Iraq, but McCain says we will stay 100 years if necessary and warns, "There's going to be other wars." But wars against whom? Iran? Pakistan? Russia? North Korea? With the U.S. military stretched to the breaking point, and the quality of army recruits falling, who will fight these wars?
Then there is the immigration crisis. It is estimated that there are 12 million to 20 million illegal aliens in the United States today, with many hundreds of thousands being added each year.