by Mel Griffith
The next election is still over a year away, but the campaign is already well underway. The excitement now is about the primaries and only involves Democrats, since the Republicans already have their nominee picked out. Part of the reason the campaign started so early is that the primary season keeps starting earlier every four years. It is likely we will know by March who will be the Democratic nominee because people tend to jump on the front runner's bandwagon as soon as they figure out who he is. So far, there is no front runner, but a field of ten candidates, although at least three of these have no realistic chance of winning and seem to be running mainly so they can say they once ran for president. They include an ex-senator who was defeated after one disastrous term, a congressman whose main claim to fame is having mismanaged the city of Cleveland, Ohio so badly it went bankrupt while he was mayor. Just think what he could do to the national debt if only he could get elected.
Then there is a professional agitator who has never held any office and wants to start at the top. His main accomplishments seem to have been to make Jesse Jackson disappear from the national scene, though perhaps Jesse is just busy baby sitting.
Each of the remaining seven candidates may have at least an outside chance of getting the Democratic nomination. They consist of four senators, an ex-governor, a congressman, and recently, a general. Since most of them want to connect with us working people and who don't seem to have ever done any actual hands-on work, there has been a lot of talk about what their fathers did, sort of a "my dad can lick your dad" campaign. Gephart's father drove a truck, Edwards' father was a factory worker. Edwards mentioned that he also worked in a factory before he became a millionaire ambulance-chasing trial lawyer, but he didn't say for how long. Lieberman's father also once drove a truck, something he mentions more often than the fact that his father later owned a liquor store. Dean's father was a wealthy stockbroker in New York City and Kerry's was a diplomat who spent most of his time among elite circles in Europe, so these candidates don't talk about their fathers too much when they are connecting with us common folk.
General Clark, like General McArthur, who also once aspired to be president, graduated first in his class at West Point, which is a considerable feat. However, he is probably out of his league trying to start his political career at the top. Military skill does not necessarily transfer to politics, as General Grant demonstrated. General Eisenhower had a fairly successful eight years in the White House, but he concentrated mostly on playing golf and staying out of the way of the people who knew how to run the government. However, after eight years of neglect, things were pretty well run down by the time he left office.
This country is very evenly divided between the two parties, so the next presidential race is likely to be a close one, one way or the other, no matter who wins the opportunity to run against George Bush.