Amidst all the grumbling of how horrible and unpleasant the 2016 presidential campaign has been, I must confess that it's my favorite presidential campaign of all time. That may seem strange given the ugly tone of the campaign and the fact that both major parties have nominated candidates that most Americans dislike. But my joy has nothing to do with the candidates, the issues, or the election itself.
I'm loving this election because this is my first campaign as an ex-pollster.
After decades of running polls and writing analysis every night and day, I can now look back and appreciate just how much of a grind it had been. Even more important, I realize more fully how being caught up in the daily grind of the political world makes it harder to recognize what's going on in the real world.
Through it all, I never lost my faith in the common-sense wisdom of the American people. And I never forgot that the culture is more important than politics. But, the ferocious noise of political class battles often made it challenging to hear the more uplifting messages coming from outside the political world.
That's the reason Election 2016 is such a thrill for me. This time around, I get to keep politics in its proper perspective. Talk about a refreshing change!
The political world has mistakenly convinced itself that politicians lead the nation and their agendas determine the future. Because they have this distorted view of their own importance, many in the political world can't understand why everybody in the country isn't hanging on every word uttered by the candidates. Many are angry that every American doesn't live and breathe politics. I even saw a tweet this year suggesting it was unpatriotic to watch a Sunday Night Football game instead of the presidential debate!
The problem, however, is not with the voters. It's with the politicians.
Governing involves more than just government. For America to function as it should, we need an all-hands-on-board approach that includes civic groups, churches, small businesses, social clubs, sports teams, theater groups, online communities, neighborhood organizations, local governments, and more. Our society would collapse without the 65 million volunteers and 22 million entrepreneurs who engage in pragmatic problem solving every day.
Importantly, it is the groups outside of politics that lead the nation and create a better world. Change always comes from outside the world of politics. Positive change comes when everyday Americans use the freedom to work together in community.
Being freed from the daily grind of polling has allowed me to spend more time with that positive change sweeping across America and less time with our dysfunctional political system. Politics does have a role to play, but it's not nearly as important as the politicians want us to believe. Politics is about money and power and using one to get the other. Community is about the things that really matter in life.
No matter what happens on Election Day, the hard work of moving America forward will continue in our communities. Politics have failed, America will not.