With just two weeks left until election day in the U.S., the race is no longer heating up: it's at a steady boil. Early voting has begun, a full eight national tracking polls are cranking out numbers daily, and the campaigns are on the ground nationwide Getting Out the Vote. If you haven't voted yet (or if you just can't get enough political coverage), I urge you to check out Frontline's The Choice 2008 program online. You can watch the whole thing for free -- and I think you'll find it worthwhile.
The Choice is a Frontline staple going back to 1988, taking a detailed look at both candidates, including extensive interviews with primary sources close to the candidates. The interviews are surprisingly revealing: these people aren't stage-managed politicos spouting talking points (presumably those bits have been edited out). Instead the interviewees offer honest, candid assessments of the candidates, their campaigns, and their personal biographies. It has been a long road to this election for both candidates, and The Choice is the definitive documentary about that journey. Here's part of the film's summary:
With the race narrowed to two men -- one whose life was focused by his military service and his years as a POW in Hanoi, the other a black child raised by his white family who found identity in grassroots organizing and politics in the African American community of Chicago -- America is truly at a crossroads: historic lows in the public's confidence in our country's future; a battered incumbent overseeing an unpopular war in Iraq; an economy in deep trouble as the world's financial crisis plays out.
"This is a moment where people are both terrified and also hopeful," says Kirk. "They have a choice between two extraordinary candidacies, two men who are trying to embody change in a time where many Americans seem to believe partisan dysfunction has curtailed the ability of our political parties to lead."
As journalist Matt Bai concludes, "Both of them, in what they convey to voters -- one in a long career spanning decades, the other in a lightning flash of a career spanning what seems like minutes -- [is] a sense of breaking with the status quo, a sense of change, a sense that things need to be done differently than they've been done before. And the question I think a lot of voters will have to ask themselves is, who's actually going to deliver?"
To watch the program, visit The Choice 2008 home page and click "Watch the Full Program" in the middle. Alternately, you can download the whole show from iTunes (also for free, through November) to watch it on the go. Finally, you can watch it on YouTube if you can stand the tiny little window.