I doubt it’s any surprise to readers of this blog, but it’s obvious that the most effective political messaging over the past few years has been “unity” and “pragmatism.”
Sens. McCain and Obama explicitly base their appeals to voters on the premise that they can reach out both to independent voters who are affiliated with neither party, and to politicians of the opposite party. A precedent for such a governing style recently has been set: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California and Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York have led the way, each succeeding largely by detaching themselves from their Republican party and governing as independents.
Voters are pushing the system in precisely this direction: The share of the public registered as neither Democrat nor Republican, but rather as independent, has exploded in recent years. In New Hampshire this year, more than four in 10 registered voters didn’t declare any party affiliation, up from just more than two in 10 in 1992. In California, independent voters are the fastest-growing segment of those who have registered; almost a quarter of the registered voters there now are either independent or affiliated with neither major party.
And if we look at historical voter ID trends, we can see where it’s going…
So what are the reasons? Are people really that tired of partisanship or are their more practical reasons?
Well, probably a little bit of both…
But ending the alarming rise in the cost of health care, searching for energy independence in an era of $100-a-barrel oil, and, perhaps above all, resisting the rise of extreme Islam and terrorism all are problems with potential to compel national consensus at some point. “Those are three huge issues, all of which I think are very amenable to bipartisan solutions,” says Mr. Mehlman, a law-school classmate of Mr. Obama. “At a moment when we have big issues, hopefully we can come together.”
Agreed. And for some reason I’m full of “hope” this year.
I hope the coming campaign doesn’t completely destroy that feeling.