Well now that Bill Richardson has fared poorly in two states, the total populations of which are less than half that of the city I live in, I can see why he needs to drop out of the race. After all, 1.5% of the US population has rejected him.In fact, Richardson probably decided to throw in the towel Tuesday evening after the networks were calling winners after 17% of the New Hampshire precincts had reported. I can see why, because at that point both Clinton and Obama each had clearly gained more voters than there were students in my high school.

I don’t have any particular affection for the man, but he was the most experienced Democratic Party candidate, and unlike many, I think that counts for something. Much further down the list, I would have liked to see a Latin president, given how much anti-Latin prejudice there is these days. 

Some other thoughts:

During the Democratic presidential debate Saturday evening, candidates John Edwards and Barack Obama, and to a lesser degree Hillary Clinton, kept hammering on the need for “change.” There has also been an emphasis on the alleged importance of being an outsider. 

I have always found this idea to be problematic.  The mantra of “change, change, change” got so bad that at one point candidate Bill Richardson said, “There is nothing wrong with having experience,” and went on to defend the simple virtue of having a long record of public service.

Despite my own disaffection with most politicians and the current political process, I feel that the “throw the bums out” mentality can be very damaging.  Similarly, I oppose term limits. 

Yes, I understand the need to do something about entrenched interests in politics. But in what other profession do we say, “We don’t want somebody with 20 years experience, we want somebody with no experience”? It makes no sense.  Is any engineer better for having less experience?  Is a psychologist, or a physicist, or an electrician better off having no experience? 

Being a legislator is not an easy job.  It is very complex, and there are many, many issues which need to be understood.  It makes no sense to take experienced, trained people and toss them overboard simply because they are experienced and trained.

Another problem is that when we listen to electoral coverage on TV, whether it is a conservative network or a liberal network, we spend the vast majority of our time listening to analysis of who can win in what states, who can appeal to what type of voter, who is likable, who is electable, etc., etc. What we should instead be talking about is whether their ideas on how to solve problems such as healthcare, the war in Iraq, climate change, immigration, etc, will actually work.

Another problem is that the elections go on way, way too long, cost far too much money, and grind up far too much time.  There is no need for our elections to go on for two years, or even for one year.  There is nothing that the candidates need to say that they cannot say within a few months, as in many European countries.

These elections are also a terrible waste of manpower.  Think of it–during most of the primaries until this point, 5% of the United States Senate has in effect been AWOL for the past year because they have been campaigning for president.  Several governors have also been AWOL. No, this does not create a governmental crisis, but it does unnecessarily weaken both the federal government and state governments.

I also find it ridiculous that these important, highly trained people who have grave responsibilities are instead spending endless months wooing a handful of voters by hanging out at diners in Iowa or eating clam chowder–pardon me, “clam chowda”–with voters in New Hampshire.

I also found John Edwards’ relentless attacks on business during the debate to be rather shortsighted. I’ve little doubt that some of these corporations do commit some of the abuses which Edwards alleges. However, one reality of the capitalist economic system is that big business essentially holds the country and the political system hostage, because they are the main force to create jobs. (Yes, I know many small businesses create jobs, too, and if you want to work for minimum wage, have at it.)

When I hear Edwards’ attacks on big business, I keep wondering where he thinks living-wage jobs are going to come from. And no matter what government social welfare programs you have or how many of them you create, the best social program of all is a good job. I think Democrats too often forget this.

Glenn Sacks, www.GlennSacks.com

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