It's interesting to see people get excited about a political candidate. Especially the way Barack Obama's followers are alive with electricity at the hope that he can bring real change to our nation. There is an emotional energy among his supporters that has not been felt in politics since, well, probably Robert Kennedy's candidacy in the late 1960s. People are throwing their support behind Barack Obama because they truly believe he is different than the rest. That he will lead us through some much needed global and domestic policy adjustments to our corrupt and dying system.

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The only way to move up in any company is to become part of that company. That means you believe what the company believes. You internalize their goals, beliefs and value system. Why would some company want you advancing through their management structure if you didn't truly believe in what the company was doing? To put somebody in a position of leadership who has goals and morals that differ from the company's will serve only to create conflict within the group and eventually damage their image of solidarity and, likely, their ability to reach their goals. This is basic Management 101 stuff.

Well, political parties are no different. The only way for a political candidate to move up within the power structure of a party -- no matter how democratic that power structure may appear -- is for that candidate to internalize all the values and goals of the party. You see, despite what you might like to believe, political parties are not made up of the people who vote for them. No, political parties are pretty much just giant corporate type structures that serve as an endorsing tool for political candidates.

As a political candidate rises in ranks, pursuing higher and higher offices -- there being none higher in the United States than president -- it is extremely important to the party that this candidate have the same values and beliefs that the party holds. Which brings us to the parties themselves.

If you are a Barack Obama supporter it is likely you are not happy with where the current system, headed by our two political parties, has brought us as a nation. That's understandable, it's not a good place that we have reached as of late.

If you believe that Obama is going to be different, though, you probably start with the assumption that since we have a Republican president, then the Republicans are in control, and that with a Democrat as president things will be different. This assumes, however, that there are fundamental differences between Democrats and Republicans. The truth is wildly less complicated, though. Other than on matters of means and methods, the two political parties we have here in this country just aren't all that different from each other. They have a lot of the same goals. Both parties are supporters of big government, and both parties are supporters of big business. Neither party (and if you question this, just do a little research into their actions instead of their words) care all that much about the average American or the average worker. Sure, they stand up and speak at lumberjack union fundraisers because they need votes from these people, but both parties have consistently failed to support the average American when given the chance –- except when they have been forced to do so by a large scale public charge such as the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s -- or found it convenient when furhering their own agendas.

The utter disconcern for the average American by our current political system should be plainly obvious to us from our recent, and not so recent, history. That is, if we care to look at it clearly. Likewise, it should be painfully obvious to us from our recent history that we should not get excited about candidates who promise to be different than all other candidates before them.

President George W. Bush ran on a platform of the compassionate conservative and a smaller government. The man then went on to start two pointless and terroristic wars. He has cut social spending to the bone so as to give massive tax cuts to the rich and corporations with the promise that all that extra money will trickle down to us lower beings, eventually -- as Reagan asked, "Are you better of now than you were four years ago?" or eight years ago, for that matter. And Bush has managed to grow the federal government and our national debt more than probably all presidents before him, combined (sans Reagan, who did the same thing). Obviously he didn't mean a lot of what he said.

Before him we had a president that promised to look out for the little guys. President Bill Clinton, however, forcefully instituted the vile and destructive NAFTA treaty that has taken countless jobs, and money, out of this country and served to basically enslave the American Third World at the hands of capitalists. Another president looking out for the concerns of the rich at the cost of the poor.

And... I won't continue back through history. I hope we remember it all.

The truth is that politicians in the past have over and over again offered a new kind of leadership, only to slough off all these words once in office. We have never seen this change promised to us because the idea is fundamentally flawed. Flawed in that you can never advance to these positions of power within the existing framework of politics without taking on the values and beliefs of the existing framework. A framework that we have all seen to be quite destructive. Maybe it has come time we learn from our mistakes, finally.

So, to all you Barack Obama supporters out there, I'm really sorry, but the truth is that the guy very likely does not have anything new to offer us. I understand the desire to be able to stand behind a charismatic leader that truly seeks change, a leader you can really believe in. However, I just don't think we are going to see that come out of our current political system. I have been talking to passionate Obama supporters on this subject, trying to get them to convince me that I am wrong, but none yet have begun to show me how he is going to be any different than the last few new kind of leaders we have had -- and even his talk, once you get past the 'time for change' rhetoric, shows this to be true.

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Think about all the energy -- physical and emotional -- that has gone into supporting Barack Obama and candidates like him in the past. What if, instead, the people of America took that same energy and used it to advance important causes instead of candidates. Fighting, with our voices united, for the very issues that these politicians give lip service to during elections, and then ignore once in office. Politicians, with all their power, still derive that strength from us, their voters and followers. If we make the issues -- which they have no time to think about because they are obviously too busy worrying about lapel pins -- our main concern, instead of charisma and leadership, then our representatives will be forced to lead this country in the direction in which we, the People, desire it to go.

Supporters of a candidate put their time and energy into a candidacy because they support the views and issues the candidate supports. Let's take public health care as a popular example. Obviously, if somebody supports public health care and a viable candidate supports public health care, it makes sense to support that candidate. However, instead of putting all their extra time into support of that candidate, if these people put a good portion of this time into developing, advocating and implementing (where ever your specific talents apply) an efficient and effective public health care system, it is much more likely we will end up with a public health care system that works, instead of maybe possibly ending up with a public health care system at all -- if that candidate sticks with their word and is able to ever get around to it.

I know this is not how things work in our current system. That is why this is an idea that is being proposed -- as one does not usually write to try to convince people to do things they are already doing. I also know this is not a clearcut issue. The general support of candidates is to some degree important, as anybody would obviously prefer to have a candidate in office that they agree with, support, and can hopefully be influenced by the will of the public. However, as what we have been doing does not seem to be satisfying the people, maybe another paradigm is called for.

Candidates matter, like it or not

What sirspens is advocating above amounts to direct democracy, a system where all individuals always participate in all collective decisions. Unfortunately, this is a most cumbersome, boring and impractical political system in populous societies.

It has been tried, but it tends to die out, after the first enthusiasm has left the participants. And believe me, it dies out quite soon. It doesn't take very long until people realise what immense amount of work and effort everybody has to put in, in order to really make decisions about everything, from local garbage collection, the colour of zebra crossing stripes, etc., etc., and the latest trade treaty with Honduras. In addition, direct democracy can be dangerously vulnerable to dirty tricks by demagogues with an anti-democratic agenda.

Hence, what most democratic nations practice instead is representative democracy, where you vote for someone whom (and whose agenda) you trust and who then makes all the boring (as well as the interesting) decisions for you, as your representative. Like sirspens most eloquently describes, this can certainly turn out very badly, like with Mr G W Bush, the present War-and-Torture President of the US.

But the upside of this system is that you can always get rid of bastards without bloodshed (even if it frequently means replacing them with different bastards). So -- being able to get rid of bastards without bloodshed is the main point of representative democracy -- not arriving at the right decisions.

So support of candidates IS important, after all.

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