The politics of the White House have always been brutal. This house, forever stained by both the good and bad deeds of its occupiers, requires a good hosing every four years to get rid of all the mud thrown at it during presidential elections. Unfortunately, the upcoming election may merit more than just that one hosing. With bountiful candidates on both ends of the spectrum, even at a year and a half away, this election may prove to be the dirtiest of them all.

The candidates in this election, with so much risk of muddying their clothes and tarnishing their reputations, must be brave indeed to enter this field. That is, brave or greedy.

The true problem facing voters in all stages of the presidential election of 2008 will not be differences in opinion among candidates, but instead the fickle dilemma of filtering those who wish to take on the many problems facing America today from those who see power shining like a beacon from Pennsylvania Avenue.

Elections in America have never been about who’s right or wrong; that’s a fantasy most students learn to distrust even in high school. It is a candidate’s character that determines how far he/she will go during elections.

Bill Clinton’s handshake swayed many more voters than his views on gays in the military, and current President Bush gained much more support from his sociable image than from any of his agendas in his War on Terror.

To my great delight, we have plenty of worthwhile characters performing in 2008. On one hand, we have the Democratic frontrunner, a brilliant woman, wife to a former president and the not-quite-tragic victim of her husband’s adultery, who has inherited both her husband’s famed political machine and the associations that come along with her name: Clinton.

On the other hand, we have Rudolph Giuliani, the Republican front-runner and possibly the only Republican candidate with a chance to split New York – Senator Hillary Clinton’s base of operations for the past seven years.

As if this conflict weren’t already enough for an enticing election, we have another main character who, if able to survive the mud-throwing, dirt-spraying, reputation-burning monster called the “Clinton Machine,” may actually get into office and continue to try – sadly, it is almost only he who genuinely tries – to bring a new era of reform to Washington D.C. Senator Barack Obama’s reform plan, while centered on the corrupt workings of all three branches, includes much more than limiting Congressmen’s pay. In his book, “The Audacity of Hope,” he speaks of a new type of politics, one without the brutal partisanship so often found today. His views – albeit idealistic almost to the point of insanity – truly show that this character is not just another politician claiming to be an outsider or reformer.

One of the main skepticisms being thrown at Senator Obama has been his lack of experience. But isn’t this exactly what the American people have been crying for since the huge number of scandals began to flood from the White House a few years ago? Senator Obama is the outsider we’ve been looking for this whole time. The fact that he hasn’t spent half a century in Congress, or that he hasn’t had time to accept all of the crooked precedents prevalent in government, is not a bad thing. And how, you may ask, is Senator Obama supposed to stand up to the politicians who wield those dishonest weapons? Well, D.C. is not the only rough place in this country; his experience as a leader of a non-profit organization centered in the poor neighborhoods of Chicago alone might have been enough to prepare him for the furious senior citizens we call politicians.

Whether this election will turn out to be as exciting as it’s building up to be remains to be seen. For now, I am content with hoping that the audience applauds this one character who will actually make a difference in the White House.

Epstein is a member of the class of 2010.

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