August 28th, 2008
10:49 AM ET

What's really at stake in this election?

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Jeffrey Toobin | Bio
CNN Senior Political Analyst

Conventions are about politics, not policies, so it's not surprising that we've lately been preoccupied with Hillary Clinton's body language and John McCain's real estate.

But it seems timely to offer a reminder that this election is really about something - about issues that will affect the lives of every American and, most likely, everyone in the world.

Presidential candidates are cagey about specifics, so here's some informed speculation about how the world might look differently if McCain or Barack Obama wins in November:

Obama has three clear priorities for his presidency. He wants to end the war in Iraq, he wants to undertake a major expansion of guaranteed health care, and he wants to change energy policy to lower our dependence on foreign oil and start to address global warming. Can he do any or all of these?


soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. Jean

    Jeff – it is indeed about the issues. But the issues can't be addressed if partisan politics continues to rule in Congress. Our elected officials continue to set a really poor example – which is echoed in all the comments on this blog. Are there people commenting here that actually believe one party has a lock on all the good ideas??? Neither party has a lock on good ideas and if we are going to address the issues we need our elected officials to find a way to work together. Let's restore some civility to the discussion, back it up with facts and not emotion. And with all due respect – let's see the media spend some time on objective journalism and not on opinion pieces.

    August 28, 2008 at 6:34 pm |
  2. Annie Kate

    When this election cycle began I was for Joe Biden initially. Then he dropped out and I had to reconsider. I admit Obama makes me nervous about what he is really going to change and whether he can do it. But if he's not elected we know we won't get good heath care, a greener world, an economy that works, etc. I think that with Biden as his VP Obama can be a great President – I do hope though that he makes the health care for everyone and not just children. Everyone should be able to have good health care regardless of age.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    August 28, 2008 at 6:00 pm |
  3. Alex

    I find that both John McCain and Barrack Obama have some good ideas on how to clean up George Bush's messes. I am a Republican and have told several people that I honestly believe I made the biggest mistakes of my life in voting for George W. Bush...twice. That man is simply a disgrace to all Americans and has completely screwed up just about everything possible. Now we have two men to choose from and both frankly freighten me because their words make sense depending on the issue (and thats if McCain can remember), but both bring serious questions to the table as to being able to perform. A dream is not enough. One thing is for sure, our economy cannot take anymore hits from senseless spending and moronic decision making. It appears Iraq will finally come to end on its own (thank God). But many of the lofty ideas on both sides will takes huge amounts of money. Raising taxes will send more people into the toilet and will do nothing to improve conditions. What I truly dislike about this election is once again I'm stuck trying to choose the lesser of two evils. The last time, I screwed up bigtime and I'm really gun shy now with either of these candidates. The only positive thing I'm seeing this far is our great nation if finally learning to put that darn race card down and are at least trying to get together on some fronts to make life better for ALL the people. Now is it heads or tails and whose heads and who tails?

    August 28, 2008 at 5:43 pm |
  4. Susan


    In our current economic situation that we find ourselves in we have to:
    1) increase taxes
    2) stop spending
    3) keep interest rates higher
    4) reform healthcare
    5) deal with Social Security and Medicare

    As you see, I would never get elected. I would tell the truth!!!!!!


    August 28, 2008 at 4:38 pm |
  5. Rena

    To all who believe that our soldiers lives are worth McCain and Bush policies then why don't you exchange places with our soldiers and go to war for Mccain and Bush? Anybody? I didn't think so; easier said then done. That's what I'm getting out of most of you Repugs; talk and no action. Until you live with seeing one of your loves going to a war that has no substance as to why it was initiated; don't run your mouth. Until you lose sleepless nights, or hear your babies asking when daddy or mommy is coming home or the bigger question Why daddy or mommy is not coming back home. Shut your mouth! I'm sure once you experience this you want be talking so idiotic.

    August 28, 2008 at 3:46 pm |
  6. suki

    Jeff – if there weren't enough issues at stake in this election, the one that concerns me most even over the economy, health care and the war is the supreme court – if Mcain has the opportunity to appoint a supreme court justice, I fear that we as Americans will lose what we hold dear our very justice system – electing McCain would be like having Putin govern

    August 28, 2008 at 3:00 pm |
  7. Donna A. Reuter, Bremerton, WA

    What is at stake is the destruction of our democracy. What the neo-cons, who now are in control of the GOP, want is to transform this democratic republic into a fascist state. These are extremely high stakes.

    In short if you want what we are entitled to under the United States Constitution "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness", vote Democratic. If you want to live under a dictatorsip, vote Republican.

    I am a student of history and current events, I don't like what is happening to this nation. As someone who has taken the same oath of office that the Members of Congress took on their first day of work, I am trying my best to defend, support, and protect this nation and its Constitution.

    August 28, 2008 at 2:14 pm |
  8. ginger

    It should be pointed out that Sen. Obama made a sincere effort to stick to what America hungers for most policy and issues. John McCain was eager to start the negative ads and take our focus away from the things that matter. John McCain unleashed negative ad after negative ad. Sen. Obama had no choice but to fight back.

    How much money and time was wasted on the stupid Paris Hilton, Britney Spears ad?


    August 28, 2008 at 1:49 pm |
  9. dee

    Jeff, you have the power to focus on the issues and not cover the superficial stuff. I think your not taking responsibility here. Why not do a show on the ten biggest issues in America and get SPECIFICS on where the candidates stand. For example, healthcare. What would both candidates do in this area? How exactly would they pay for it.

    I have a creative solution for the healthcare problem. Why not
    FORCE the healthcare companies to allow any family member
    (no matter what age OR health condition) to sign up on ANY of their family members plans. It would be simple and wouldn't create more red tape. This option could be available to anyone with a family member who has health insurance. The only problem that would need to be worked out is if someone got fired, laid off, or switched jobs. I think this would work if we had a candidate who really would play hardball with these greedy healthcare monopolies.

    August 28, 2008 at 1:28 pm |
  10. Kristal

    You are right, this is a critical time and election. We have so many issues that need to be solved;ISSUES that the Bush administration and the Republican party have made a MESS of (with the approval of John McCain). People please wake up this Country is not headed in the right direction and voting for John McCain will be a guarantee that we will continue going down hill. He can say all day long that he and Bush are not one of the same but his voting record does not support that and I do not believe it for a second. American Citizens we can't go through this again. Our men and women are being killed everyday in this senseless war,millions without healthcare, not enough jobs for our U.S. citizens. Barack DOES have a plan for these issues. What does McCain have?

    August 28, 2008 at 12:55 pm |
  11. Lee

    Obama supporters keep chanting the mantra that says
    "Barack Obama is the candidate who can unite our country"
    ... but, Obama couldn't even unite his own party
    ... even after winning the nomination ... that was done by the Clintons.
    And, in reality, McCain has the history of working across the aisle in congress.
    Obama has brainwashed his followers into making decisions based on 'belief',
    rather than reason ... this relieves his followers from having to deal with facts
    ... this relieves his followers from having to think ... all they have to do is believe Barack.
    This is what Obama learned in Jeremiah Wright's church
    ... you can lead people through the power of BLIND faith.
    Even his campaign solgan is based on belief, not common sense, logic, or reason.
    Obama's even got his followers publicly denouncing the importance of experience
    ... as if to say that experience is the reason Bush performed poorly
    ... when the real reason Obama and his followers denounce experience,
    is because Obama doesn't have any.
    Keep America Strong ... Elect Senator John McCain in November !!!

    August 28, 2008 at 12:46 pm |
  12. Nicole

    My daugther's future is at stake!

    We cannot afford to allow another 4 yrs of Bush policies or non-policies for that matter on some very important issues facing our nation. I believe in my heart that McCain is good man and wants the best for country however you cannot do that when you voted 95% of the time on Bush failed policies. Should we give him a second chance to get it right? I think not!

    Our nation is at a critical point and we need someone to address our many issues. Healthcare, home foreclosures, education, umemployment , alternative energy, social security reform.

    I think Obama is ready to lead because he has the judgement to make the right decisions including on national security matters. We need someone that try diplomacy first before war. It isn't fair to ask our men and women in uniform to give their lives for a war that was a mistake.

    August 28, 2008 at 11:25 am |
  13. Cindy

    Great article. It's about time that someone got back to the issues and broke it down to the reality of what can or can't be done.

    I myself have watched this convention and have heard absolutely nothing on any of the issues as to how they are going to solve them. They are all too busy tooting each others horns and bashing people. It's been a bust to me so far.

    It really is a critical time and we need the best one who can solve the issues that we have. Not the one that looks the best or makes you feel good. The reality is can this nation stand higher taxes that will be doled out to us all by dems? It was tried before in the Carter administration and that was a bust! Everyone wants to forget that though!


    August 28, 2008 at 11:05 am |