Should we end the war in Afghanistan as quick as we can, or possibly send in more troops? Can we provide health care (not just insurance!) to everyone who needs it, and will that mean putting private health insurers out of business? Is the recession slowing down, and for whom: is it good news if unemployment is still in double digits in certain regions? How do we stop nuclear proliferation, and global warming? Is it really a sign of progress when a woman in Iran stands up for the right to wear pants without being flogged for it, but women in many parts of the U.S. have to travel for hours to get the reproductive services (including both contraception and abortion) that the Constitution protects? How can the states pay for vital services and schools without going bankrupt?
All these questions, and many more, are serious and should be at the top of the agenda. But in Massachusetts, we're arguing about whether the governor should be able to appoint an interim U.S. Senator to take Ted Kennedy's seat or whether we have to wait five months to elect somebody. Huh?
OK, I know these questions are related. I have a Ph.D. in political science: no need to rehearse the arguments with me. The point is that whether it's an appointment, an election, or a coronation, it's also a distraction. Whoever we elect will only do as good a job as we force him or her to do. We should be focusing on the issues, not the candidates.