I've been a political junkie all my life. Growing up around D.C., it's hard to avoid, but I admit, I was especially nerdy about it. I read 3 newspapers a day as a kid: The Washington Post in the morning, the Alexandria Gazette in the afternoon, and The Washington Star in the evening (which my dad read on his bus ride home). On top of that, my parents always watched the evening news, which, in the D.C. market, covers national and world news almost more than it does local news. When I went to college in Indiana and saw the hog reports on the evening news, I realized I was not "normal."
So every 4 years, for as long as I can remember, I have followed the presidential races in great detail. Yet in all my memory, I have never seen the voters be as fluid in their preferences for party candidates as they are in this race. Although the press keeps touting a "new leader in the polls," both parties are still wide open. With now less than a month until the Iowa primary, no one has gained that undying American voter loyalty. And personally, I'm glad.
You see, I remember when seemingly otherwise sane people said to me "I love George W. Bush!" They would hear nothing of the arguments that he mismanaged the state of Texas as governor, or that he was a failed businessman, or that his education at Harvard at Yale was neither appropriate nor successful.
"I just love George Bush," they all said. "He seems like such a nice man."
Seven years later and look what he's done to our country.
I'm not gloating that I voted for Al Gore and then for John Kerry, and I don't have a bumper sticker that says "Don't blame me, I voted for Kerry" or any such thing. No, it's time to move forward. Which is why I am happy to see the polls change almost every day. What this means to me is that the American public is actually listening to the candidates and formulating opinions based on the candidates' platforms and answers to debate questions.
The pollsters focus on who we'd like to share a beer with, and then proclaim that candidate "leading in the polls." The American people, however, are focused on which candidate can end the war in Iraq, ensure affordable health care, address climate change and our energy policy's part in it, and provide quality education for all Americans.
There's another Democratic debate this afternoon, hosted by NPR. Who will be the new choice of the American voter? Stay tuned.