A year of choices
One year from now, America will elect a new president.
On Nov. 4, 2008, Americans will go to the polls to vote for the new leader of the United States. Presidents can serve two terms of four years, and by next year, George W. Bush will have exhausted his eligibility.
Keith Bybee, chair of constitutional law and politics in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, acknowledged that the U.S. government needs an adjustment.
‘The most important thing (the country needs) would be change, and elections are good at supplying that,’ he said. ‘That change can take place in a couple of different forms, not just the president. But one of the important changes will be solidifying a divided government.’
Along with change, the next president should be a well-informed person for the good of the country and the world, said Ralph Ketcham, Maxwell professor emeritus.
‘The next president has to understand the country and world affairs, and the best way to understand this – to me – is to see the difference between President George Bush and his father,’ he said. ‘His father understood the world and country, where I think his son did not and has not, which is why the next candidate needs to be experienced.’
Furthermore, the country needs someone who is wise and can make capable judgments, said Robert McClure, professor of political science and public affairs.
‘The presidency is occupied by a single person, more than any other institution in the U.S.,’ he said. ‘It depends for its effectiveness of the character and capacity of the person who occupies it. So we should always pray for someone who has wisdom and good judgment.’
Statewide primaries will begin after the new year, leading up to Election Day one year from Sunday. But, what can a candidate do to garner more support and gain popularity?
‘A convincing win in the primaries and strong victories for the nomination is critical for a candidate at this stage,’ Bybee said.
Ketcham agrees, but said he thinks candidates need to convey themselves attractively to the public. And while exemplifying their attractiveness, they must present themselves as right-minded, attentive to the public’s needs and demonstrate an understanding of national issues.
The presidential debates provide this venue for candidates, Ketcham said.
Ketcham recommends changing the format of the debates to allow candidates to ‘give longer explanations for the public to see what they are up to, as opposed to answering some tricky questions that a moderator is asking them.’
Still, Election Day is 363 days away. Candidates will have the year to leave a lasting impression on the country and voters will have a full year to make an educated decision.
‘It will be the longest presidential election cycle we have ever had, so it’s still too early’ to tell, Bybee said.
McClure agreed, saying he hasn’t chosen a candidate yet, but will make a decision by the time the New York state primary rolls around.
‘All of the people who seek the presidency – to the best of my knowledge – or nearly all of them, have something to recommend them,’ he said. ‘But if the question is, ‘Is there somebody out there who is the savior?”
McClure has an answer for this question.
‘No. Never has been and never will be. As Barry Goldwater said, ‘All these men and women put their pants on the same way as we do – one leg at a time.”
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