My belief in American democracy

Updated
I’m something of a romantic on this subject. I believe in this country’s fundamental good. I believe in our ability to choose the best leaders. Even when we pick a president who doesn’t deliver, I’m never sure that the man he beat would have been a better choice. FDR, Truman, Ike, JFK, Lyndon Johnson for a while … We had a pretty good run. Reagan has also gone down as one of the greats. So, I like the way we run our government. I don’t believe in the Tea Party/Birther argument that our government verges on being some kind of foreign occupying force. For all its faults – thinking long-term for once – to paraphrase Woody Guthrie, this government is our government. My worry is those who try to manipulate democracy, the pressure groups and the money people who’d like all elections to come down to who can buy the most advertising on television – most of it negative advertising. What gave me hope last night was that we saw voters don’t like to be pushed around any more than I do. A lot of labor money went into the Arkansas Senate primary. It produced a lot of drama – stand-alone, who’s-side-are-you-on drama – and a real hero. Women celebrated in the pro-labor film “Norma Rae;” the irony is that the heroine, the Norma Rae, last night in Little Rock was the Democratic senator who labor tried to beat. Norma Rae’s name in this picture is Blanche Lincoln.

I’m still hoping about the failure of big money to win elections. Along the way, we’ve had some great leaders who benefited from big personal money: Jack Kennedy for one, Nelson Rockefeller for another. You might throw in Mike Bloomberg, the mayor of New York. All of them are quality public figures with demonstrated public spirit, vision, and political moxie. We’ll see if the two candidates who won California’s Republican primaries last night possess quality in leadership, not just quantity in money. California voters have shown in the past that they can discern the difference, rejecting big-money statewide candidates like Michael Huffington and Darrell Issa. It’ll be great if they can exercise the same judgment – and proper skepticism – again between now and November. Gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman spent $80 million dollars winning a million votes yesterday. That’s $80 a vote. We’ll know by the general election whether her candidacy has been democracy at work, or just another heavily-pushed item on eBay.

My belief in American democracy

Updated