After Paris Hilton, pigs and moose, there was a time when it seemed this consequential election was going to be diverted once again into the trivial.
But then the financial crisis hit, and there was no way the public would be distracted.
Some tried, flogging tenuous guilt-by-association attacks, fighting fictional caricatures, and trumping up irrelevant stories. But despite the efforts of campaign hacks, conservative bloggers and the Drudge Report, voters kept their focus.
So in the end, the presidential race is coming down to two clearly contrasting visions on the economy.
* Should we reform our tax code in a progressive fashion with lower taxes for working families and higher taxes for those earning more than $250,000, or a regressive fashion with more tax breaks for corporations?
* Should we ramp up public investment in clean energy, healthcare, infrastructure and education, or should we have a spending freeze?
* Should we provide a public health plan option that competes with private health insurance and helps guarantee coverage for all, or should we end employer-based health care and push people to purchase $12,000 plans with only a $5,000 tax credit?
* Should we reform our trade strategy to better protect workers and the environment, or should we keep the current strategy?
For the most part, the two candidates did not blur their positions, but offered stark differences. With a campaign based primarily on issues, voters have the ability to make a relatively clear, informed choice on which direction to take America, giving the winner a mandate to act boldly.
That’s how campaigns are supposed to work in a healthy democracy.
If McCain loses, expect some conservatives to complain that he didn’t go dirty enough and didn’t run ads featuring Obama’s former pastor (ads that an independent conservative group is running anyway.) They will be severely missing the point.
Voters demanded a focus on the economy. Aany attempt to talk about anything less important rightly got the back of the hand.
Feel good that we are having a substantive election, and go vote.