Every four years Americans get a chance to choose who will control their government for the next four. Individuals join or form interest groups, known as parties, and support them. The names and intentions of the parties vary over time, but under our system there have been basically only two, The contest is between the Ins and the Outs (in Britain called “Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition”). The Ins must run on their record, the Outs on their promises.

This year the central issue is the economy. In his letter on August 3, Peter Robb, a patriotic Out, correctly observes that the economic record is full of woeful statistics, such as a rising unemployment rate, etc. etc.. The Ins counter with happier statistics, showing increasing private hiring, etc., etc. Statistics are like tea leaves; they can be read in different ways. Some Outs have Tea Parties to publicize their versions.

Mr. Robb is kind enough to tell us what In supporters want and what they believe in—European socialism. By contrast, he writes, “Americans are angry. We want answers. We want a president who will get us back on our feet.”

An even more important election issue is leadership. The Ins follow a man with an unusual, partly foreign childhood, now thoroughly American, a personable, gifted speaker, and someone who listens and doesn’t pretend he knows all the answers. The Outs offer the survivor of a raucous primary, who is confident he can run the country like a business because that is where he has succeeded. He has all the plans in his head, but often has trouble putting them into words.

Nevertheless, Mr. Robb is confident that in November Sir gaffes-a-lot will charge in on his dressage horse, brandishing his trusty Bain sword, and put all the wicked socialists to flight. We’ll see.

W.R. Deeble

West Tisbury