While some of us would like to think that we know presidential candidates personally, the reality is we don’t. What we have are impressions about their person and character as well as ideas about what they stand for and could achieve. Among the only things we can claim as facts are basic biographic details, rehashed anecdotes, and perhaps even bills sponsored (but how many of us can honestly say we keep track of legislation?).
Impressions solidify through time as people see, hear and think more about a politician and her actions. Some Americans have the impression that McCain can get cantankerous but is nonetheless a patriot and a maverick. Others have the impression that Bill Clinton is slick but was able to set the economy right. There are those like myself who think that Hillary, while not warm and fuzzy, is a hard-working and experienced person.
What about Barack Obama? Undeniably he has made a very strong and positive impression on millions of Americans, but the novelty of this first impression has faded. And it has become apparent that we “know” him not. He seems like an intelligent man with values and aspirations most of us appreciate. But with a little than over two months to go, a whole lot of Democrats and Independents still ask who he is. Too many people, too many voters, do not have a solid enough impression of the man.
Let me make it clear: I passionately believe that it is time for change. It is time to put government back into Democratic stewardship. It is time to reclaim the values that bind us together. It is time to clean up the mess created by the present administration and set things right again.
But I am anxious. I am concerned that it might be too late to change impressions.