While I know it's pretty lengthy, I encourage everyone to read this article because I have never before seen my feelings about the general state of our population in relation to how they make decisions stated quite so succinctly as the second point he makes about why there is a decision between Obama and Clinton.
2) We include amongst us an undereducated geographically ignorant nation-within-a-nation who are afraid of the world outside of our borders, terrified by the eternal "other," that perpetual "threat" that takes new forms but never changes -- from the late Saddam Hussein to the last Mexican to crawl over the border.
This is the strength of the politics of fear which has buoyed the Bush administration through out their 8 years, and assured that even while we as a country may hate them, we still have a very vocal, heart-felt push to support further candidates that will manipulate us in much the same way as they did.
Our president has become a laughing stock, not just amongst us but through out the world, and even as his final term wanes, the majority of us are simply holding our breath in hopes that congress and common sense will keep him from doing anything too extraordinarily stupid during his final months in office. Once the 2008 election is over, we can finally begin the healing process after what has been essentially 8 solid years of rape on our nation. Our trust in our government has plummeted, our faith in the system is gone, even our general feeling of security has been completely destroyed.
Not only are we now held in check, as a populous, by the ever-present fear of 'terrorism' from outside, but there is (to anyone who has been paying attention) this all-to-new fear of our very own government. While our media occasionally has almost sensationalist stories about how the FBI or DHS will pop up and detain people who aren't actually doing anything wrong, we still behave as though our basic civil liberties are not being undercut in a way they never have been before. I have never been one to subscribe to silly conspiracy theories, or to worry too much about the fall of our democracy into some sort of dictatorship, but that fear is starting to seem all too real. At the very least, I know that if it weren't for term limits, and if the Bush neo-con administration was put in for another 4 years, I would make it a very real goal to get out of the country as fast as humanly possible. Very little searching can reveal stories like these, many of which MUST worry even the most even headed.
Remember, Hitler was voted into office, voluntarily placed as dictator by the representative body of the people, and they re-convened dutifully every few years to renew that iron grip he had on the country. Also remember, the Roman empire that we often think of fell after being around much longer than America has. We are not invincible, and it's the blind ignorance of the people that allow frail, delicately-balanced systems like democracy (or a democratic republic) to fall, by infection of fear, into dictatorships.