Thanks, everyone, for reading, and for the nice words!
Matchstick is right. Democracy is subverted by inertia and disinterest, and both qualities are carefully cultivated by the business interests in this country that would prefer to do the decision-making on behalf of (but not necessarily in the interest of) the general public (not all businesses, obviously, but enough of them to make a formidable force).
It may sound like a grand conspiracy, but it's really not. It's just the way a capitalist-based democracy works or doesn't. I believe it's the reason education is such an afterthought when you consider all the planning, money, research and reach that goes into advertising. Both structures are vying for kids' attention, but only one entity captures it. People are worth more to business interests as consumers rather than contributors or independent thinkers. And that's true of people of all ages. Kids are just the easiest marks.
Not a single candidate running in this election can fix things by him or herself. Because this is a democracy we are actually the ones in charge, but we have to be aware of what's going on, informed enough to know what needs to be done, and have the fortitude and courage to fight for it. Whoever takes office is up against extremely well-funded interests with billions of dollars in profits on the line. Without sustained public awareness and support, even the most honest, hard-working, visionary politician would be hamstrung against that.
The reason I support Obama is that he has the ability to capture people's imaginations and remind them what the fight is about, and how each plays a role in it. Whether he has the stuff to do it or not is a gamble, but at least with him that possibility exists -- to me, anyway. If he were not in the race I'd support Hillary for other reasons, but Obama has done an incredible job of speaking to that part of us that wants to hope it can be done.