Cleaning out my queue of unfinished drafts. From some time during the primary season:

For much of the pre-season phase (pre-Iowa and New Hampshire) of Decision 2008, the Okie Gardener gently admonished me to abandon the "horse race" aspect of the campaign and join him in his quest for substance.

Later, after I began to write critically of Barack Obama, advocates for "CHANGE" called on me to refrain from dwelling on his rhetoric, middle name, race, faith, lack of experience, and other matters apart from substance.

All of these questions and exhortations presume that we will pick our next president based on his or her collective stance on the issues--which is altogether logical.

Why have I virtually ignored "the issues" thus far (save for Iraq and the "war on terror")?

Simply, I do not believe that some slate of agreed-upon major issues that confront us an a nation actually will play a telling role in the fall. Undoubtedly, one or two key issues of concern will emerge between now and then--mostly depending on what seemingly crucial event might be the most ever-present in our minds at that particular moment: the economy? Likely. Iraq? This is already much less prevalent than most of us thought it would be.

If the summer proves uncharacteristically hot, perhaps we will be tuned into global warming? Will the news media and the Democratic nominee succeed in creating a sense of urgency over healthcare? Maybe. Or will something wholly unforeseen enter our consciousness between now and then that completely overshadows all other concerns?

What can I safely say will not be a major issue in the fall campaign? The future of American education or our impending crisis of structural debt, which includes social security, medicare, and other entitlements, [which] is not titillating enough to keep the attention of the electorate. The ultimate contradiction of our time? The desire for a low-tax, small government society in which all our needs are met by wise leadership and sound public institutions that protect us from ourselves. There is no political advantage in telling us that this combination is not possible; therefore, I bet the farm that this subject will not emerge in any of the televised debates.

Changes in the United States happen incrementally. With the exception of Franklin Roosevelt and the "New Deal," revolutions in America have not happened at the ballot box. And in the case of FDR, the electorate was swept up in a national sense of crisis--panic, etc. For the record, few could have imagined the impending transformation based on Roosevelt's campaign rhetoric or the Democratic Party platform of 1932.

The United States of America is a big ship. Specific policy ideas and proposals from any one successful candidate during one election cycle generally does not have much impact on the course of American history. On the other hand, larger philosophical positions have a greater impact over time. Therefore, this raging debate within the Republican faithful over who we are and who best personifies that collective consciousness strikes me as much more meaningful. The problem, however, is that the current candidates seem disinclined to engage that internal maelstrom.