Editorial June 2012
FORECASTING THE FUTURE
Ready or not, it’s another presidential election year, and Choice is here to meet your library’s presidential collection development needs. Thanks to the ever diligent Choice editors, we’ve got you covered coming and going. On page 1827, you’ll find a list of new and forthcoming publications on the U.S. presidency. And on page 1799, you’ll find “Camelot to Gridlock: Significant Choice Reviews on the Presidency,” a special feature that includes reprints of nearly 100 Choice reviews of works on the presidency published since 2000, accompanied by a list of twenty-three reference and Internet resources that provide authoritative coverage of the presidency. Everything your library needs to support almost any campus initiative devoted to this year’s campaign.
There is, of course, one thing we can’t help you with: forecasting the outcome of the campaign. And that’s because, amazingly enough, we don’t actually know who will win. All we know is the identity of the two most likely major party candidates, Barack Obama, the Democratic incumbent, and Mitt Romney, the apparent Republican challenger. One of these two men will presumably win the fifty-seventh quadrennial presidential election scheduled for November 6. Either way, the victor’s supporters will be overjoyed, and the loser’s disappointed. Meanwhile, for a small group of ambitious insiders November 6 will mark not so much the end of the current campaign as the beginning of the next one. Welcome to the never-ending saga of presidential politics in America.
But now let’s suppose, just for the fun of it, that the Choice editors actually do know who will win on November 6. And let’s further suppose that Choice has decided not to divulge this information until after November 6. How would this affect our perspective on the campaign? In what way would the campaign look different to us than to ordinary folks who have to follow the “presidential horse race” without the benefit of such foreknowledge?
Well, for one thing, it would make a huge difference in our interpretation of events as the campaign progresses. Gone would be all the second guessing about the latest news headline. Did Obama actually just make a critical mistake that will cost him the election? We wouldn’t have to guess. We’d know. In fact, we’d view the entire campaign quite differently than we would if we didn’t know the end of the story. And if we played our cards right, we’d be consistently able to impress others with our calm, insightful election commentary. Maybe we’d even get interviewed on Meet the Press or, better yet, The Daily Show.
To be sure, knowing the outcome wouldn’t solve all our problems. In fact, it would create some new ones. What would it be like to be a supporter of the candidate you knew was going to lose? How would that feel? And what, if anything, could you do about it? And yes, now is probably a good time to recall that we’re talking about a fantasy here, and not the latest reality show.
But of this much I’m sure. Whatever the outcome of the November 6 election, it will spawn more books on presidential politics. And when they appear, Choice will review them.—IER