Saturday, August 25, 2012

Changes & Perennial Fixtures

Seeing Virginia as a competitive* state in a presidential election is genuinely pleasing to this political junkie.  I grew up in Virginia and immersed myself into Virginia politics in my teens.  In my lifetime Virgina's electoral votes were reliably Republican.  Virginia went Republican for president in 14 consecutive elections  beginning with Eisenhower in 1952 and ending with Obama in 2008.  This year Virginia is a toss-up.  Not the Virginia that I knew.  And all the better for the change.

Even better then to know that a third-party conservative could throw Virginia's vote to Obama in a close race.  
 Former congressman Virgil H. Goode Jr. hand-delivered more than 20,500 signatures to Virginia election officials this week, hoping to become the next president of the United States. The move could instead make him the next Ralph Nader, the consumer advocate widely believed to have played the role of spoiler in the 2000 election.
Goode has always been a righteous self-promoter, which is why he's had such a successful political career. He's also a good-old-boy--genuinely so--and I am convinced that he accurately reflects the sentiments of many of his former constituents.  I can only wish him the best of luck in his home state this year.

*To the extent that any election is actually competitive when the only likely outcome is Democratic or Republican.

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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Not Always So Different

Interesting article in today's Washington Post on the differences between and within the Democratic and Republican parties.  The  article reports on current and previous survey data to track the growth of partisanship over the past decade and a half.  Not surprisingly, partisan divisions have sharpened considerably.  The article also explores the divisions within each party, each party is seen as a mosaic of key groups.  Again, not surprising to anyone who has studied politics and parties in this country.

What struck me most, though, were the areas of, if not agreement, then at least some common ground.
Almost half of Republicans and three-quarters of Democrats say they favor a policy that would allow illegal immigrants to apply for legal status. And six in 10 Republicans, along with almost nine in 10 Democrats, say the government should regulate the release of greenhouse gases from power plants, cars and factories to reduce global warming.

There is also consensus on two international issues. Few in each party say the United States should play the leading role in the world. More say this country should play a major but not leading role, and around a quarter in each party would prefer the United States to play a minor role.
This tells me that a basis for building consensus is possible, even in this era of partisanship.  What we lack are leaders who will help that consensus find its voice in a society that no longer knows how to listen.

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