This week, we saw the contours of the presidential campaign that we’re going to have to live with for the next five months or so. And we can tell from the negative start that it’s liable to get nastier and nastier as it wears on – and wears us down.
President Obama is looking Forward, which is even briefer than Hope and Change. He can’t very well look back, considering that hope and change haven’t worked out so well. His campaign wants to make the election a choice – who do you trust more to run the country, me or that filthy, heartless businessman Mitt Romney?
But Romney is trying to make the election a referendum. Sure, maybe you don’t know me, but do you really want to give Obama four more years to screw things up even more? Shouldn’t you send someone to Washington who might actually know enough about the private sector to get the economy moving again?
There we have it – choice vs. referendum, and the fact is that most voters will probably combine those two choices. Yes, we will weigh both candidates, but Obama has a record, and we will consider that, too.
That will not make it easy for us to decide, and the polls are starting to reflect that. This deeply divided country is apparently not going to heal for this election. The contest is pretty much a dead heat, and it’s likely to stay that way all the way to November.