William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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THIS DAY – AT 8:22 A.M. ET:  Today the American people will decide whether to re-elect a president with the competence of Jimmy Carter and the ethics of Richard Nixon.  Indeed, this election has the feel of 1980, when America dodged a bullet, dismissed the aforementioned Carter, and gave us the gift of Ronald Reagan.

I remember the night well, and the sense of relief.  I knew the decline of the nation would soon end, and it did.

Today we make a similar decision. 

Today, as in 1980, we face a wayward press...except that it is far more wayward now than it was then, and far broader.  We didn't have cable news in 1980.  Today we do, for better and worse.  Fortunately, we have today an alternative media.  In 1980 the internet was just a dream.  Today it is a major influence. 

Today, as in 1980, we face the rotting fruits of a declining educational system.  Unfortunately, we have not solved that problem.  Indeed, a disturbing number of the American elite don't even see it as a problem.

In 1980 we had the guiding influence of the World War II generation still with us.  The youngest of our World War II vets were in their early 50s.  Today they are almost all gone, replaced with the considerably less-glowing influence of the sixties generation. 

Perhaps the biggest change is cultural, and that is said with sadness.  Every survey shows that today's electorate will be deeply divided by race and ethnicity.  That divide has been encouraged by "intellectuals" and "educators," who are often neither.  The failure of the Republican Party to engage the Hispanic community looms large.  It is a failure that must not be repeated.

We hope for a Romney victory, because the future of this country may well depend on it.  But the insistent questions today will be "Who will vote?" and "How many will there be?"

We will monitor the election during the day for any signs of impropriety, which has to be a worry, and for indications of turnout.  We do that simply because it's interesting, not because it can change anything.

We should know the verdict in hours.  But, of course, we can have a repeat of 2000, where recounts will be needed.  As Bette Davis famously said in "All About Eve," – "Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night!"

November 6, 2012