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Great Depression II: Obama or McCain?

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Obviously our economy is in crisis and at risk of plunging into an all out depression. In addition to our ballooning national debt and the current financial crisis, our infrastructure has been slowly eroding and cronyism and corruption runs rampant. Who will we turn to for real change: Obama or McCain?

Corporations, driven as they are entirely by an insatiable need for bigger profits, have become beholden to short term results and temporary capital investment strategies. Higher paying jobs are following blue collar jobs overseas. Our dependence on foreign oil and cheap debt weaken our ability to react to economic shifts. Our educational standards are decaying along with our ability to innovate.

This is a time when Obama's message of coming together to solve our problems, reform government and reinstate the American Dream should be resonating with everyone. But, it's not. Being "smart" is twisted into the Orwellian "elitist"; Superficial style points and culture wars rule the media debate (charges of lipstick, sexism, racism, bridges, sex education, pregnancies, etc.) and Americans, once again, are being swayed by negative campaigning and outright lies.

American culture, politics and values have changed dramatically since the "great generation" went through the Great Depression. Americans have become more materialistic, less engaged, more dogmatically religious and more entitled than ever. The fourth estate is in shambles. Our constitution, privacy, ethos and freedoms are under continual attack by the executive and judicial branches. The tentacles of a bloated bureaucracy impede progress almost everywhere while oversight within our government is almost non-existent.

Maybe after so many years of Bush "leadership" and the predictable, mindless mob mentality he both choreographed and commanded in the wake of 9/11, I've become cynical about how America would react to an economic collapse. instead of electing real leadership to bring the country and world together, our society's reaction to 9/11 was to give up liberties for "protection" and turning to the socially dividing, fear mongering neocons. How does someone like Obama compete in this type of cynical and fearful environment?

What would happen if the entire middle class was thrust into poverty this close to the election? Not the type of recession where the middle class needs to cut back on vacations or keep the family car a few more years, but the kind of poverty where it is impossible to get work, even a McJob. And forget about trying to pay the mortgage, it's a struggle just keep the heat and electricity on and put food on the table. Many of us have never lived through such an economic calamity and think we are immune during these modern, prosperous times.

Can Americans -- saddled with a corrupted political system and autocratic corporations -- rise to the occasion and pull us out of a depression? Can we bring back the "can do," problem solving, innovative, hard working values that used to make America strong? In our current political environment, what would fill this economic vacuum: A McCain/Palin monarchy? Totalitarianism? A sweep of Christian fundamentalism? Will we be willing to give up even more freedoms and competent leadership in exchange for safety and comfort?

An optimistic view is that we can still rally this divided nation through innovation, resolve and visionary leadership to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles. America, albeit sometimes reluctantly, has risen to the occasion to lead the world in the past.

After going through this type of economic fire, America could emerge truly changed with a new responsible corporate structure, honest and humanistic leadership and a cooperative world outlook. Maybe we would even change how money and greed corrupt our political, business, environmental and person domains.

Personally, I'm dismayed that the election is so close after the conventions. The democratic convention was filled with hope, inspiring change and real solutions. Obama has proven that he can and will rally America and the world. The Republican convention was just mean spirited and did nothing to address regular "folks" concerns. McCain and Palin are reactionary hot heads. Palin, especially, suffers from excessive and uninformed decisiveness and lack of worldliness and historical perspective.

Where do you think the country is headed during these increasingly tough times? Will Americans turn to inspiring hope and authentic change or to safety and reflections of their own mediocrity?