Election 2008 will be a landmark referendum

To my mind, the upcoming presidential election is less about the candidates than it is about the American voting (and non-voting) public.

I know that many people vehemently disagree with me when I say that all three of the presidential candidates would make quite decent chief executives. I can get a bit of traction for my stand when I point out that none of the three candidates is closely affiliated with a hidebound party structure. The good-old-boy Republications are putting on a stiff upper lip about McCain, while the career Democrats are maintaining fixed social smiles as they back either Obama or Clinton.

Oh, I like the discomfort of the party hacks.

To my view, all three of the candidates are decent people and seasoned public servants, perfectly willing and capable when it comes to doing the hard work required take the high road to the White House over the next six months.

The question is: Do the voters (and our neighbors the non-voters) want them to?

Or would the American public rather be entertained by six months of mud-slinging, mud-wrestling, and racist, sexist, and ageist trash talk? Be assured that the U.S. infotainment industry is just dying to do its worst if anyone shows the slightest interest. And the candidates will be sorely tempted to take the bait if that’s the only way to win the election.

The rest of the world is watching—not just to see if we can do better than Bush, but to see if we deserve better.