He will change once elected

Published 11:04 am Monday, November 3, 2008

While I do not know who will be elected president tomorrow, I do know who will not be. It will not be the same John McCain who has been telling us war stories. It will not be the same Barack Obama who has been telling us neighborhood stories. It will be neither the campaigning Obama nor the campaigning McCain. Whichever is elected president will be a different man once off the campaign stump and seated in the White House.

A respected journalist writes he has known Senator John McCain for more than 30 years, but the 2008 Candidate McCain is not the senator he has seen in operation, and he is not the McCain with whom he has talked in private over the years. This journalist predicts if John McCain is elected, he will revert to the more moderate and somewhat liberal official he has experienced in the past.

A career Chicago politician has, likewise, reported that Senator Barack Obama has been extremely politicized from what he saw moving around the neighborhoods on the south side. Obama, he allows, is intensely political. Nonetheless, he is more pragmatic than he is political. This is to say, this long-time associate and political ally has seen Obama stand firmly for his own political ideals, and this represents the real Obama. However, time after time, he has seen the senator accommodate to positions on which he wasn’t sold (and even some with which he disagreed). With Obama, realism always trumps ideals. This man predicts if Obama is elected, he will continue political when he can but become pragmatic when he must.

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McCain and Obama, for all their professed and real differences, are not terribly different. They are equally politicians.

A politician says what has to say to get votes, and he does what he has to do to get elected.

Sometimes, they maneuver politically so long, they forget that getting elected was a means to the end of serving the public and remain forever the politicians. (After all, after election comes re-election and then…) The better of them keep track of the goal and get to business as soon as they are relatively (never absolutely) free of political obligations that distract from or even compromise public service.

So, if neither Obama nor McCain are real during the campaign and if either will become a different man in the White House, does it make any difference for which one we vote? I think it does. (I have a harder time explaining this, however.)

In my cynical moments, which are considerable, I might toss a coin for all the difference it would make. I hope I am in a more reasoning mood tomorrow so I can make an intelligent and effective decision.

I take greatest confidence in this: You will join me in voting, and together we will pick the better man.

Moreover, we will not elect a king, but a president and vice president. We elect congressional representatives and senators, whose job it is to balance the executive branch.

In other words, this is America and we are Americans. Whoever we elect, it is our opportunity and responsibility to make his presidency work for America. Even if he was not our candidate, he will be our president.

Our job as citizens doesn’t end as we exit the voting booth. In more ways than most of us recognize, it is within our power to make either John McCain or Barack Obama the best president this country ever had to date.

Vote tomorrow and then get to the rest of citizenship.