A favorite group of mine in the 80's was Living Colour and their song "Cult of Personality" had these lyrics:
"Look into my eyes, what do you see?
Cult of personality
I know your anger, I know your dreams
I've been everything you want to be
I'm the cult of personality."
This election is shaping up into a clash of American cultures and this does not bode well for what we end up with after the election.
On the one hand we have John McCain who represents the old guard Republican of strong military/small government and his running mate who represents the new guard which is more fundamentalist and libertarian. In the Democrats' corner, there is Barack Obama who represents a shifting Democratic party who holds fast to core democratic values like strengthening the economy through jobs with decent wages and benefits, but also recognizes the need to reach across the divide and address issues that all Americans value, including health care, aid for children, and education that has both accountability and quality for all schools. Joe Biden represents older guard Democrats who believe that America's greatness comes from using our power in the world in cooperation with other countries.
If this contest comes down to young versus old or soccer moms versus NASCAR dads or black versus white, we all lose. Elections should not be personal popularity contests. They should be about three basic things:
1) Leadership ability/experience: communication ability, negotiation ability, judgment, and charisma (which I define as: does the candidate inspire confidence and earn your respect/trust)
2) Plans: their "Contact with America" about what they will attempt to accomplish in their term as president and how they will pay for what they bite off.
3) Support team: who will help them accomplish their objectives.
As we all decide who to vote for, pay attention to these three items. The mass media doesn't spend an inordinate amount of time presenting information about them, but magazines, small press, and some web journalists do.
As a consumer society, we are used to choosing "sizzle" over "steak" and the same ad people that sell beer often sell our presidential candidates to us. Unfortunately, while we may be seduced into buying a beer that tastes like the back end of a skunk, it is not life altering. Who we choose to vote for, unfortunately, may well be. We must look past the "Country First" and "Change" brands and look at what we are really being sold. Too often, it is a bill of goods.