August 25, 2008


Why this campaign matters (LIZ SIDOTI, 8/25/08, Associated Press)

This is an election at a pivotal time, a tenuous period in the United States and across the world.

Here, people struggle to fill their cars with gas, their tables with food, their children with knowledge. They worry about job layoffs, home foreclosures and shrinking pensions - and they have reason to, given cheaper overseas labor, a credit crisis and havoc on Wall Street. Wildfires scorch the West, floods pound the Heartland and tropical storms slam the Gulf Coast. The scars of Hurricane Katrina linger. So do those of Sept. 11.

Elsewhere, the United States leads wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. There's chaos in Pakistan. Russian troops occupy tiny Georgia. Iran test-fires missiles, while North Korea grudgingly begins nuclear disarmament. Al-Qaida and the Taliban plot in the shadows. Genocide consumes Darfur. Poverty and disease blanket Africa. Israelis and Palestinians struggle still. China's influence grows, as does that of the rest of Asia. The U.S. dollar trades near record lows.

Everywhere, a changing climate threatens irreparable harm to the environment, to animal species, frankly, to the world as we know it. Cures for cancer and other deadly diseases remain elusive.

And Americans search for a leader to fix the ills, fretting: It's got to get better.

The success of apocalyptic cults is, likewise, based on a need to believe that your own life matters and that, therefore, you must be living through a pivotal time in history, preferably the very end of things. The reality is that it's rather unlikely that our moment matters much in the life of the species to begin with and given that we have a growing economy, low unemployment, no existential threats and a war contained to a few primitive sections of a few dysfunctional states it seems particularly self-obsessive to try and freight this election with meaning.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 25, 2008 7:10 PM
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