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The joy of American democracy

Let me finish tonight with the joy of American democracy.What I love is that the American people - the voter - and we're talking about picking presidents again

Let me finish tonight with the joy of American democracy.

What I love is that the American people - the voter - and we're talking about picking presidents again - is always looking for something greater, grander - someone who can carry us to a higher, more hopeful place.

This is how Barack Obama won, how Ronald Reagan won, how Jack Kennedy won. Hope!  It's not "I'm in the mood for love!" It's hope.  Whether it's "high hopes" and Jack Kennedy or "the man from hope" Bill Clinton or that great poster with the word "hope" and the picture of the man right now in the White House.

And so it will go this season that gets underway in September.  Just like the school year that's beginning anew - it's going to be about hope - hope we can do better in this grade, this time.  

It's going to be a battle of hope - I hope - between the candidate Republican voters choose and the hope of what Obama will be able to do with a mandate for a second term of historic action. 

Yes, this is the shape of the battlefield.  Not who can play defense and who can play offense.  Not the defense of this administration against the assault of the wrecking machine Rick Perry or someone else is capable of putting into the field.

It's a battle of two candidates - probably starting out with an equal chance - competing to convince voters - especially that 20 percent who sit in the middle and decide presidential elections - of who holds the strongest promise of taking this country to a better historic place.

I say this now because this isn't going to be about playing it safe or playing it tough. It's going to be about who can convince a sales-resistant American, a middle-of-the-roader, that he or she has the stuff to turn this country around - to get us back on the track to greatness. 

The Republican candidate will promise that less government is better: fewer taxes, less spending, less regulation, less involvement. He or she will say that the smart move is to have Washington pull back into a cocoon of small activity and leave the mighty corporate world - which we have been recently assured is just people like us - with all the good intentions of mankind, all the compassion and human concern - and, of course, looking out for one's fellow man - alive and thriving in the executive boardroom.

The live, pending, intriguing unknown is what President Obama will offer.  What Obama program?  What Obama push?  What Obama historic sweep of action will be showcased for our consideration as we enter the polling booth?  What alternative to the simple, compelling argument that government should simply get the heck out of the way so that the lion of capitalism can let loose its mighty roar.  What will be the other roar is my question and, having it now, almost three years in, is my quandary.