The 2008 Election battle is well underway. But the battlefield, at this stage of the election, is not in the voting booth, and not even in the bank.
It’s in the mind.
It’s a psychological war, a war of mental categories, assumptions, prognostications, and declarations of “done deals” before they’re done. It’s a war of polls and “front-runners,” of probabilities and predictions.
There are two important stages to an election. Stage One, in which we are now, is the period of time when we get to decide who will be on the ballot. Stage Two, which comes after the primaries are all finished, is when we figure out who on the ballot should get our vote. These are two very different stages. Key to winning the psychological battle for the election is to keep reminding ourselves that we are in Stage One, not Stage Two.
The fact is that right now, nobody knows who will be on the ballot for the Presidential election in November of 2008. It could be any one of the candidates who have already declared their intention to run, or it could be someone we haven’t heard of yet. As past elections have shown, “front-runners” at this stage of the process do not necessarily become the candidates on Election Day. And in the age of blogs and vlogs, circumstances in politics change faster than ever, and the dynamics of change are more numerous and unpredictable than ever. Many things still have to happen. Straw polls, debates, key endorsements, and the free media these things generate can catapult potential candidates into a much stronger position than they now enjoy.
That means that our focus right now should be on getting behind the person we think is the best candidate, and working to increase that candidate’s name recognition and base of support. That’s “Stage One” activity. Too many people, however, are thinking and acting as if the candidates have already been chosen. Too many are saying, for example, “We don’t have a good pro-life candidate,” or “The choices aren’t so great.” This is “Stage Two” thinking, as if we have already been handed the slate of candidates and have to be content to choose the best of a host of unsatisfactory options.
The bottom line is this: think for yourself. Don’t let polls and headlines tell you who is most likely to be the nominee of any party. Rather, decide whom you want to support and work hard for that person. Websites like www.politics1.com and www.realclearpolitics.com are good sources for getting an independent and comprehensive view of the political landscape and those who are running or may run.
Finally, don’t wait for anyone else to push you or give you permission to do what you know you should do. We already have all the mandate we need, in our rights as citizens and in the call of the Gospel to transform the world. Gather together with like-minded citizens, no matter what their religious affiliation, and get to work!