By Daniel Johnson-Kim, Editor in Chief
How’s that feeling of hope? You know the one.
Maybe you got it after hearing Sen. Barack Obama speak at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, and it remained with you until he became a presidential nominee.
Perhaps the feeling hit you after Sen. John McCain sternly outlined his devotion to “finish the job” in Iraq and assured conservatives he would follow in the footsteps of President Ronald Raegan.
Or maybe it was when Paris Hilton posted a video online laying out her “Hot” policies in her phony run for the nation’s top job, then again, maybe not.
Whenever, however or if hope ever hits you this election year, know this: it’s nothing new.
The hope everything will be better once [insert candidate’s name] is in the White House has been with us long before the days of “fair and balanced” coverage and YouTube debates even existed. If you don’t believe me, take Alexis de Tocqueville’s word for it.
The French historian and political thinker visited the United States in the mid-19th century and, after observing the 1832 race between Andrew Jackson and Henry Clay, published “Democracy in America.”
In his poignant sociological study of our budding nation and it’s new government, Tocqueville couldn’t help but notice the feelings of hope infecting the nation during an election year.
“For a long while before the appointed time has come, the election becomes the important and, so to speak, the all-engrossing topic of discussion,” Tocqueville wrote. “. the citizens are divided into hostile camps, each of which assumes the names of its favorite candidate; the whole nation glows with feverish excitement; the election is the daily theme of the press, the subject of every private conversation, the end of every thought and every action.”
Sound familiar? It should.
Even without three cable news channels reporting every move of our potential choices for the top job, the American people are driven, devoted and directly involved in the battle for the White House.
Every four years, Americans’ lives are littered with political ads, debates and discussion about policies and personalities of our presidential candidates. And we eat it up. Or maybe it’s just me.
We do it because we believe through democracy, our hope can morph into real change.
The hope we feel during election keeps our democracy and nation alive. The belief that one man or woman backed by millions of Americans can make our country better – whatever your personal definition may be – keeps the people in this Democactic experiment called the Unites States dreaming.
And whether your hope is fulfilled or destroyed after the final Election Day, we all will return to our normal lives and wait until hope seeps through once again.
And if you can’t stand politics, don’t worry. Just like Tocqueville observed in 1832, after Election Day “calm returns, and the river, which had nearly broken its banks, sinks to its usual level.”