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"The most powerful man in the United States is President Nixon. You've heard of him? Charles Colson is special counsel to the President. There's a cartoon on his wall. The caption reads, "When you've got 'em by the throats, their hearts and minds will follow."

--Harry Rosenfeld, All the President's Men

Minyanville isn't about political opinion and for good reason. In what has become the most heated election of our lifetimes, pitching a tent on either side of the fence would inevitably alienate the critters. With human psychology increasingly on edge and the ballot box serving as closure, it's impossible not to think about what was, what is and perhaps most importantly, what will soon become the representation of our collective voice.

I've always considered myself a relatively moderate independent. That is, there are issues I've agreed with and others I agreed to disagree with. What I've found over the last few years, however, is that I've been alarmed, aroused and, at times, ashamed of the choices of our elected leaders. That's forced me out of my self-imposed political asylum and made me take a hard look both at my individual beliefs and the direction of our country.

I find myself in a quandary as we ready to exercise our constitutional right and sense that I'm not alone. While the conservative right battles the liberal left, most Americans are stuck in the middle with you. The issue, for me, is that our current administration has failed to earn my trust while the challengers have yet to earn my respect. And as the political bookends battle it out, most swing voters will likely abstain as a function of confusion and sit on their frustrated hands.

That scenario plays into the hands of the incumbents as their constituency already has roots. That is why I opined earlier this week that Dubya will grind out the war of attrition and find himself on Pennsylvania Avenue once again. I will allow that this outcome is a bit spooky as I believe there is a further agenda that is isolated from the collective belief system. And with four more years and a few lame ducks, American citizens will be relegated to a role of casual observation.

I offered at the beginning of the year that the "we're ok until the election trade" would likely backfire on most market participants for no other reason than it was over-subscribed. And while I continue to feel that we'll see some sort of relief rally with electoral clarity, I don't believe that either administration has the capacity to heel what truly ails us (read: it will be short-lived). The war in Iraq--or the war on terrorism for that matter--wasn't the causation of our structural fragility and policy in that regard won't offer resolution.

There are no easy choices and the stakes have never been higher. What is clear, however, is that we must all look within and decide for ourselves which road contains the fewest potholes. Our financial and economic journey will be difficult enough without littering the landscape with global distrust, unease and isolationism. I don't know if there is a tangible solution but we must remain proactive and diligent in our efforts to identify one. For when the votes are tallied and the decision is made, we will once again find ourselves as a united nation.

For better and for worse.

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