Tuesday, May 13, 2008

America Doesn't vote on Policy...and that is OK.

It might sound ironic coming from a guy who writes a a blog dedicated to thinking about Policy and Politics. This presidential election will change the political landscape in America, it will not however, be about policy.


Because it never is. Ever since the dawn of media machines owned by political campaigns voters have learned to judge politicians not by the promises they make, the vast majority of which end up being false, but by the sense they get for leadership style.

There are real policy differences between senators Obama and McCain. But by the time it comes to voting people are going to be making judgments based largely on feel and who they identify with more. Americans understand that a campaign platform does not mean every policy will get enacted, more that this platform represents the kinds of changes a particular candidate would like to see made.

Mind you, I don't think this is a bad thing. This comes from a legitimate, if unspoken understanding of the constitution. Americans understand that while a president may drive the agenda, they cannot by themselves radically alter the nation. Our founders put in place a series of checks and balances so precise and so demanding that any president no matter how charismatic, must work the political levers to enact legislation. Ultimately, that kind of leadership prowess is what is being judged.

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