Winning on the Merits

Democrats are high minded to a fault. The triple disasters of the last eight years, Iraq, Katrina and the economy, are the world's reward for Al Gore's high-mindedness late in 2ooo. But for those who believe in the high road, now is the time to reap our reward.

It's actually good that Sarah Palin performed well in the vice presidential debate on Thursday and here's hoping John McCain does just as well in tonight's debate and does not make a major gaff or stumble for the remaining weeks of the campaign. In the same spirit we hope the Obama/Biden campaign is not rocked by a major mistake or misstep. This is an election that Democrats can win on the merits, and we hope there is not major distraction in the form of an October surprise. We've already had enough surprises.

We want the attention of American voters focused right now -- focused on the strengths and weaknesses of the men and women seeking office and focused on the key question to be answered in this election: Which governing philosophy is best suited for the times we live in and the challenges we face? Which party represents real change in the direction of the US economy and our relations with a changing world?

America is ready to reach a judgment on these questions.

The McCain campaign knows this so they dumped the opposition research book on the media this weekend. While it is delightful to see that the Obama campaign was ready with a 13 minute on-line video refresher course on the Keating 5 scandal, after thrust and parry, let's get back to what's important.

The point is not that we know we are going to win. The point is that we need to work hard to make darn sure we win in a way that really means something more than a narrow victory based on campaign tactics.

The best thing Democrats fighting to win elections at all levels can do right now is be ourselves. We need to stand up for our values of justice and fairness so the economy works for the people who do the work. We need to be clear about the change we intend to bring in the direction of the economy, closing the income gap, bringing sanity and a level playing field to commerce, making government work in the public interest.

The Republicans are in disarray, but we will have lost something important if we win only because they lose. If instead we are able to lay out a clear vision of post-Bush/Cheney America it will be a lot easier to make it a reality starting in 2oo9.