The winning candidates will face a real losing proposition when they actually have to take charge. They will finally have no choice but to deal with the question they've been avoiding like the plague during the campaign: How will they govern a population embittered by being suckered by its leaders? How will they inspire when the unavoidable truths come from those who were dismissed as nay-sayers. Will they be able to maintain a consensus while delivering a sometime harsh dose of reality instead of the customary platitudes and fancy.
There are any number who can now call themselves "Prophets Without Honor. They are the one who warned for decades about "Profits Without Honor"
Sadly, there is little satisfaction to be gained from "I Told You So". Those who predicted this mess were either vilified or, worse, ignored, by that overwhelming majority whose good sense was drowned out by greedy indifference.
There was tremendous peer pressure to believe the prosperity mirage was real. There was little patience for those who warned about naked emperors.
So we shouldn't be at all surprised that our homes were financed by an economic house of cards that would inevitably collapse. If we're being honest, we don't deserve too much sympathy for expediently forgetting what investments in securities and commodities really are.
What they are not are secure savings. They are gambles in a game that is sometimes rigged by those who run the casino. The public ownership which fuels our companies and institutions has, all too often, been siphoned off and used for the private enrichment of a few.
We all wanted a piece of this rich pie, so didn't want to know the recipe of rotten ingredients. Now we're all getting sick. even those who didn't take their bite. This economic epidemic topples everyone. We have had no choice but to exist in a system that was justified by a false prosperity.
Worst of all, this mess is so complex the only people who can figure a way out of it are the ones who created it. By the way, we have no choice but to believe there IS a way out... at least part way.
So what do we do? For starters, contrary to those who say we shouldn't look back, we should look back. Not only is it necessary to review the mistakes of the 1920's and other bubble debacles, this time we must vow to never repeat them.
We also need to identify those who dug us deeper and deeper into this hole and exactly how they did it. Even if they get to keep their wealth, at the very least, we need to know who they are so we don't give anymore of ours to them. When it's appropriate we should go after any ill gotten gains and punish anyone who crossed that shady line of legality.
We absolutely must make sure that is no longer such a thin line. The waves of incompetence, greed, corruption and secrecy that caused this erosion must be damned up. Our commerce must flow in a steady stream, no longer out of control, free from control. That is public policy that our politicians cannot allow their contributors to thwart.
Most importantly, we each must decide we're no longer going to be part of the "See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil" crowd. In other words, we're going to have to work just a little bit harder so we can understand what other people are doing with our money. We're going to know enough to fend off all the smooth-talking "experts" with their grandiose promises, backed up by gobbledygook and indecipherable investment strategies. Healthy skepticism is, uh, healthy.
When John McCain and President Bush and the others of their continuum, speak of "The Fundamentals", let us never again forget the fundamental Fundamental: "If it looks to good to be true, it is".
That should also apply to our politicians who have refused to tell us about the tough choices ahead and a future with scaled back expectations. In other words, they will be leading a retreat into reason.
That dose of reality will be essential if we're going to stop our free fall. It's anything but free. As we're bitterly discovering, it's costly to each and everyone of us...no matter how culpable. Even those who predicted this would happen.