The nightmare is that we are trying to elect the leader for the Free World in a nation where two generations of truly lousy K through 12 public education have squandered our youths' potential and delivered a significant part of the electorate that is uncurious, undemanding, has never been anywhere, never read a book, never challenged power, never understood the responsibilities of being a citizen. And a large number who went to college drank their way through it. This is what Obama has to deal with: the abilities necessary to win an election in 2008 are almost diametrically opposed to those necessary to prudently and imaginatively run a country. And on top of the three percent we are running behind, not even present in the polling is the Bradley Effect, the ultimate inability, subconscious or not, of some minority of voters to press the yes button for a man of color, even if he's the best candidate.
So what do we do? Five things might just squeak us through this thing and avoid four more years of widening war, deeper recession / depression, mass deprivation and an ever-widening gap between the uber-class and everyone else, and between the United States and the rest of the sensible world:
1. Register every damn voter that needs to be registered. Who are your relatives who just came of age? Who are the people usually too lazy to vote? Get them Absentee Ballots and pay for the stamp. Diary the few days before the election, go to a swing state, get out the vote. Phone, email, compel, go nuts. It is a sin not to vote this time. In Australia, it is mandatory.
2. We are still better than they are at using new technology. And we have the greater number of Gen Y voters. The Obama experts are as smart as humans can be with viral email, texting and mobile technologies.... But have we missed any trick there, are there any young people you know that might not vote unless you explain, again, why it is really, really important? Do your own viral email. Psst! Big problem, pass it on!
3. Pray that even people undemanding in their own lives are not undemanding of their leaders. You may not understand medical science, but do you really want the surgeons with their hands inside you to be equally ignorant? We need to sell the concept of Demanding Expertise.... that everyone is intelligent enough, and should be self-interested enough, to actually demand expert leadership. Play to that. And use Bush as the best recent example of what happens when the doctor doesn't know internal medicine. Kidneys are not the liver.... and it's your liver, America!
4. Take off the gloves, Team Obama. We can't win this thing by exerting only the skills and demeanor of running the country 'highest and best'. Let's acknowledge that this is show biz.... Go for the jugular, take no hostages, break a sweat, show anger. And shine bright, unforgiving light on the paucity of actual knowledge that will be a heartbeat from the Presidency. The Bush doctrine is dangerous and leads to executive blunders like invading the wrong country.... but at least Bush himself knew what his Doctrine was in the first place.
5. We have to face-down, by shaming perhaps, the residual racism that still lurks. We need to push the truth that racism is arbitrary, silly and irrational, as well as evil, inhuman and Neanderthal. That it is unintelligent, stupid, unworthy of a person with a brain in their head, not just "bad". And let's put forward Obama not as a President who is black, but as a President who is black and white, who is post-racial, who is representative of America now, after the melting pot melted. And that pot is what made America great and continues to do so. Denzel and Halle have transcended race and are just huge stars.... so is Oprah. We have to get Obama there to kill the Bradley Effect. Single name, no race, big future. Us.