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It isn't yet the middle of January and we have already seen three states -- Iowa, New Hampshire, and the oft-overlooked Wyoming (Republican caucus only) -- cast their choices for party presidential candidates. Before we reach February, seven of the fifty states will have already decided their delegations to at least one party convention. And, in an absurd clogging of the calendar, February 5 has become the new Super Tuesday date, supplanting March as the month where seemingly every state wishes to cast ballots... 

The independent thinking man's candidate of choice for change in 2008?Here in Oregon the state party machinery on both sides has deemed it more important to remain true to tradition. It seems mindboggling that much of the American electorate is being asked to declare their intentions before New Year's hangovers have dissipated. Because people are being asked to make such a momentous decision so soon into the election year, we are seeing opinion polls rendered essentially useless as a predictive source... and we are seeing more undecided and swing voters closer to polling days than ever before.

While all of the rest of the country is jumping to conclusions before allowing sufficient time to get a clearer read on each of these candidates, we here in Oregon bide our time -- I've got four months to ruminate on my choices...

The election, to date, has centered around this abstract and ethereal concept of bringing "change" to the presidency. What really frustrates me with such inane rhetoric is that basically any of the candidates in the contest would be a change of the status quo. It isn't mere change that we as a public need to consider when we go to our polling stations; we must consider which change is the RIGHT change to get our nation back on course -- fiscally, diplomatically and militarily...

One thing you never hear this current crop of candidates speak of while stumping on the campaign trail is a demand for greater accountability from the executive branch. But, then again, so many of these candidates are either active senators (Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John McCain) or representatives (Duncan Hunter, Dennis Kucinich, Ron Paul) who have eschewed their elective duties to pander for a "better" job... they have forsaken their opportunity to affect real change with their legislative efforts to talk about theoretical "change" to skeptical audiences...

So what was Iowa really voting for when it gave Obama and Huckabee the victory? What were Granite Staters thinking as they gave Clinton and McCain the nod? We cannot allow conjecture and style-heavy, substance-deficient oratory define our choices as a society. As for me, I won't jump into the fray and declare my intentions. As I said, I don't have to make the final call until May 20. Enough people here are all too happy to give up their neutrality...

Until the sunshine of late spring descends upon Eugene, I will rock the Alfred E. Neuman avatar as my "choice" for president. After all, he represents change as much as anyone else in this contest right now...


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