View From Lodi, CA Pittsburgh, PA: American Democracy: Too Bad We Don't Use It Effectively
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The best quote from either the Republican or Democratic convention came when New York Governor David Paterson said: "If he's the answer, then the question must be ridiculous."

Paterson's observation referred to Republican presidential nominee John McCain. But it applies with equal accuracy to McCain's opponent Barack Obama and their vice-presidential choices, Joe Biden and Sarah Palin.

They're all preposterous!

The only good thing to say about election year 2008 is that it will be tough in future years to find less qualified candidates who have such little appeal to enlightened voters.

I'll hand it to the Democrats for nominating one of the very few from their  party that gives McCain, a mirror image of the least popular president in American history, a fighting chance.

I won't be watching any of McCain or Obama's self-aggrandizing performances as they debase themselves by uttering the same worn out platitudes we all know by heart.

And I'll not be reading any of their predictable speeches tailored to whatever specific voting bloc they're addressing at that particular instant. 

Most certain of all is that, unless a loaded pistol is held at my head, I won't vote for either.

Nevertheless, I do have a few simple suggestions for the candidates that might actually help them along in their quest for the White House.

Keeping in mind that the nation just suffered through an endless primary season with a gazillion meaningless debates and two exceedingly tedious conventions, I'd like to remind the candidates of the age-old adage: absence makes the heart grow fonder.

They would be shocked if they knew how quickly the majority of viewers change channels when their images show up on their television screens.

We've heard what they have to say. We either believe or we don't. Few minds will be changed between today and Election Day.

Accordingly, I recommend that the nominees drastically curtail all their public appearances until mid-October. Let the Internet, the bloggers and the 24-hour news talking heads keep their names out in the public.

Their campaigning should be limited to the three states that will decide the November winner: Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida.

Why should McCain visit California or Obama go to Texas? Neither has a chance in either state.

For Obama, I offer specific council. Please stop promoting "Change you can believe in." You have absolutely no record of change or reform of any type. The same big money sharks support you that supported George W. Bush.

As for McCain and his GOP cronies, please no more feigned concern about Hurricane Gustav victims or retroactive hand wringing about Katrina.

If you're so troubled, do something tangible. McCain owns seven houses. His wife Cindy has her own jet.

Fly to Louisiana, pick up some displaced residents from New Orleans and Baton Rouge and put them up for a few weeks.

The sad truth is that the American political system is beyond immediate repair.

America has a largely uninformed and uninterested electorate. Lobbyists, special interest and ethnic-identity groups have inordinate sway. Politicians, constantly campaigning, move from one election to the next dodging most of the real issues and providing only superficial answers to those few questions they can't avoid.

Maybe the answer can be found in the East.

The Japanese government fascinates me. Ineffectual leaders step down rather than continue to politically slug it out with little chance of success.

Twice in the last year, two Japanese prime ministers—Yasuo Fukuda and Shinzo Abe—resigned amid wide spread disgust with their performance.

Abe promoted a conservative agenda to restore national pride and core Japanese values. But voters more worried about their economic future dismissed it as out of touch.

His successor Fukuda was done in by a weakening economy combined with negative domestic growth and increasing retail prices, especially food. Market analysts dismissed Fukada's $18-billion economic stimulus as ineffectual.

Hmmm…does any of that sound familiar? A "conservative agenda," "restore national pride," "weakening economy," "increasing prices," and a failed economic stimulus package. [Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukada Resigns, by Hisako Ueno and Bruce Wallace, Los Angeles Times, September 2, 2008]

If those negatives are strong enough to bring down Japanese leadership, then the same should apply in America where we have the identical concerns.

The shame is that although the US has a democratic government, we haven't learned how to take full advantage of it.

Joe Guzzardi [email him] is a California native who recently fled the state because of over-immigration, over-population and a rapidly deteriorating quality of life. He has moved to Pittsburgh, PA where the air is clean and the growth rate stable. A long-time instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, Guzzardi has been writing a weekly column since 1988. It currently appears in the Lodi News-Sentinel.

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