The political conventions are over - how wonderful! Kind of.
I may be slow on the uptake, but for the first time I realized that they actually have a certain charm, if you listen to them carefully. That charm comes from a perception that what these things are all about is legacy. It's about how these groups of people, and the individuals within them, and leading them, want to be remembered.
Fortunately for us, the US government is far too ponderous a beast to be directed by any one candidate, or really any one party, into accomplishing dramatic legislation during one or two presidential terms. The amount of bickering, backstabbing, and general incompetence that infests all legislative proceedings insures that change is incremental, when it occurs at all. Even a 'landmark' bill like Obamacare has a legislative trail that goes back to the Clinton years. Obama merely got a majority of Congress to sign off on it; Clinton put it on the map, and the intervening tears massaged the concept into something that could be passed.
So, sweeping individual initiatives aside, what are the motivators? these people don't need money. Obama was a wealthy man before he became president; he'll merely be very wealthy, and have a rather restricted lifestyle, when he's done. Congresspeople are also generally rich to begin with, as well...the days of Mr. Smith Goes To Washington are long gone.
I think it's legacy. I think that these people want to leave some mark, however small, on the direction that government too while they were there. They want to be identified with the flavor of the time.
If I'm right, this quest for a sort of legacy - Remember Me! - isn't a bad thing at all. It's an innocent gesture of hope and faith against the inevitability of Time.
We may not agree with all that they do...and we don't, and shouldn't. But perhaps we should look at them more as the humans they are, rather than the caricatures they aren't.