Will Democracy Survive the Pundits?

01/15/2008 10:06 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

It took me almost a week to gather my thoughts - have you gathered yours?

Looking back, it feels like we survived two media coronations and are back to an election contest worthy of our democracy. The pollsters lost, the voters won. The pundits looked stupid, citizens looked smart. In that first earlier coronation, "realist" pundits and cynical prognosticators decided the "Clinton machine" was unbeatable. Without a single vote cast, a single caucus polled, Hillary was the inevitable IT.

Then came Iowa. The Clinton machine was beatable! The pundits fell in love, hope conquered all, Obama won after all. Not just the caucuses, but the rights to his own media coronation.

Which meant New Hampshire was to be an exercise in confirming the keening pundits and enthralled pollsters. Then voters went to the polls and restored democracy to the process. No outright champions. Another Clinton comeback. McCain, no kid, back too. Obama still a major force. Romney, Edwards and even Huckabee, all still viable, New York mayor Bloomberg making noises about a run.

But tens of millions of votes, nearly all, still to be cast, and a genuine contest in the offing. Who knows, not just beyond Tuesday in Michigan but maybe beyond February 5th even.

There were the expected miscalculations and rhetorical recalls. No, Hillary-haters, saying LBJ took the vision for which MLK gave his life and enacted it as legislation was not racism or one-upmanship. Just a fact, meant to show we need both vision and government leadership to realize dreams, so maybe experience is worth something. No, Obama detractors, he wasn't a cad for saying Hillary was "likeable enough" - just another guy tripping over his gender on the way to trying to be cute. So pay attention to what he's really saying on the issues.

Conclusion? Give Iowa and New Hampshire not to the winners in those states, and certainly not to the pundits who called both elections wrong, but to ordinary American citizens who insist that democracy is not about what we blatherers are saying or what the pollsters say voters are about to do, but only about what they themselves actually do when they cast their votes. Which they will be doing for another couple of weeks - maybe even months. If we let democracy run its course.