There’s an interesting article over at Time magazine about Barak Obama’s 50 state strategy to win the election.  In a nutshell, it says that by campaigning in all 50 states Obama has made the case that everyone and every vote counts.  But as the election draws near, time and money become increasingly more dear, and every candidate has to start thinking strategically about what States are most likely to be “in play”, and which States are critical to winning the election, therefore deserving of more time, money and boots on the ground.

Reality states that the candidate and his surrogates can’t be everywhere at once, and they have to make choices about how to spend their time and finances.  Strategy to win makes them think very carefully about how to spend those resources.

Strategy requires a game plan, and a calculation of how likely it is that a candidate has a State’s votes sewn up, essentially conceding the race to the other party before a single vote has been cast.

This may be a reality, but it annoys me to no end.

I don’t think there is a person in this Country who thinks their vote should be taken for granted as a done deal.  I am a person, with real thoughts and feelings and opinions on the issues facing our Country today.  I happen to live in a “battle ground” state, but I would be equally annoyed if I lived in a “slam dunk” state.  I simply don’t think anyone should be getting the message that their address may make their participation in this election irrelevant.

As a citizen, I am charged with a duty in November- to go vote, and submit my ballot, indicating who I think will best be able to lead this Country for the next four years.  I will only have two “realistic” choices.  I will choose one of them, but not without some hesitancy.

Maybe it’s the 24 hour news cycle.  Maybe it’s the Ghost of Karl Rove.  Maybe the strategy of elections has always been part of the mix, but it took place behind closed doors.  Now it takes place all day, every day, on each and every cable news show out there.  Who’s ahead?  Who’s behind? What should they do to get more votes?  How can they game the system better than ever before?   I feel like I am watching a football game, and all the news anchors are in the booth, second guessing the strategy of the coaches from above.  And I am getting more and more sick of it, despite the fact that the issues facing our country are more critical than ever.

John McCain and Sarah Palin, despite their mission statement to be straight talkers and mavericks, have given some of the most “content-free” speeches I have seen as of late.  McCain is incredibly reactionary to news, and seems unable to take a moment to reflect or to say “The situation is rapidly changing and I don’t have enough information right this second to give you a definitive answer- let’s talk in a few hours when I have more information to go on.”  I have a hard time trusting someone who is unwilling to think before he acts.  I also have a hard time trusting someone like McCain who is clearly ready to do anything to win this election- the election, this year more than ever, is not a giant game of Risk or Monopoly, nor is it Trivial Pursuit. (Choose your Board Game of Choice)

This Country needs to come together, NOW.  The politicians need to stop dividing us up and encouraging polarization of view points. We need them to acknowledge what I hope people take away from Obama and Biden’s 50 state strategy- that everyone counts.  Everyone and their vote is valuable.  And everyone is probably not dogmatic and ideological to the extreme, but sit in the center of the curve, thinking and deciding based on who they trust- who tells the truth, who thinks things out, who will be able to bring us together, rather than focus on dividing us apart.

Extremism- fostering fear and distrust- may win elections, and make it easier for people to distinguish you from the next guy.  But the day after the election, and after being sworn into office come January, the President will have to lead all of us towards common goals, and inspire all of us to help each other achieve those goals, even if some of the steps along the way cause temporary discomfort.  No one said this would be easy.

I trust Joe Biden, because he told us the truth the other day- in order to solve the financial crisis, we may have to pay more taxes.  That is simply reality, and in our heart of hearts, we know this. not easy to say, not easy to hear, but a reality, none the less.

And I hope Americans are grown-up enough to realize that turth is preferable to fiction. Heck, the $7.0 Billion bailout of bankers on Wall Street equals  $7,000 for every man woman and child in the Country- that means the bill to my family alone, assuming no interest accrues as well, would be $28,000- that’s a nice new car, a ear of college tuition….all to save people who made crazy, silly bets on Wall Street.  I think not.

I don’t trust McCain, who insists if we cut taxes, somehow the Debt will go down.  In my budget, if I have less money, I can’t pay off my debts; if I have more money I can.  That’s called basic accounting and budgeting- like the kid I hope my kids will learn in eighth grade Home and Consumer Science.

In the aggregate, we are all just one more vote.  In the aggregate, voters are treated like commodities, or numbers on a roulette wheel.  Candidates have to decide how to spend their time and resources.  they need strategies.  They need strategies to deal with our problems as well.  And I really hope that strategy is about bringing us together, not dividing us apart with partisan politics and venom.  We deserve better than that.