We all wanted a happy ending to this fairy tale,” said Goodrich, owner of Mary Jo Goodrich Island Properties in Vineyard Haven. “But I don’t think there’s going to be one. I just don’t see a turnaround in the near future.”

Ms. Goodrich is referring to the Obama presidency. But a presidency is not supposed to be a “fairy tale.” A royal wedding-you can get by with this kind of sentimentality and tripe in referring to a royal wedding this way. But if you cast your vote for a fairy tale, you’re likely to end up with something quite unlike a fairy tale.

It was this fairy tale aspect that was so troubling in the 2008 campaign. Many voters seemed to engage in a kind of euphoria that is not native to the flinty American system of governance. Outside of the Third World, where it is not unusual to regard a politician as a messiah of sorts, a political campaign should not be about a fairy tale.

I am not offering suggestions on how to vote in 2012-I like several candidates and dislike others and all in all haven’t made up my own mind. No, I am not offering tips on how to cast a vote. But I do have some ideas on voting: Look at the policies espoused by the candidates, look at their records, evaluate what they have said and done. Read everything you can get your hands on, not just the New York Times (though you need to read that too–I know, I know!). Be wise; be realistic.  

We are in a boatload deal of trouble in this country. Don’t count on a fairy tale ending. Vote as if the fate of the republic hangs on your vote. It does.