Many of us like to read the results of polls that seek to determine the opinions of our people about a wide variety of subjects. Especially fascinating are the polls that test the prospects of individuals who may run for office.
The November 2012 presidential election may seem a long time off for most of us - but not for potential candidates. They have to "get their names out" in the hope of generating enthusiasm - and raising obscene amounts of money - to have a serious chance to win. So already, some likely candidates are calculating, and many political observers are asking, "Who?"
We all know, of course, that the Democrat running for president next year almost certainly will be President Barack Obama, seeking a second term. (A great many people still haven't figured out how Obama managed to win his party's nomination and the election "last time.")
But who will likely be running against Obama in 2012? There surely are several Republicans thirsting for the GOP nomination, believing Obama is vulnerable.
That's why pollsters at Nashville's Vanderbilt University are "feeling the public pulse" well in advance. They recently surveyed Tennesseans on their views of Obama and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, a Republican. Neither of the two had majority support in Tennessee, though Obama beat Palin by a few points. (The poll didn't ask about other potential GOP candidates.)
Do most Americans really think either of those two is a desirable choice for 2012? Can't we do better? If not, doesn't that say something negative about "us" and our political judgment?
Isn't there "somebody" - aren't there several "somebodies" - who would make a far better president than either of them?
Look back over the list of our past presidents. How many of them are we really "proud" of? How many were the best we could have picked? Or are we ready to admit that "we, the people" haven't done a very good job in choosing some of our presidents?
"Mistakes have been made." We have paid dearly for some of them. But can't we - now, well ahead of 2012 - resolve to encourage several candidates of obvious stature, principle, sound philosophy and real ability?
Do you want to choose between Obama and Palin in the presidential election next year?
Or do you believe we could find a candidate of greater ability who also would have a serious possibility of winning?