Election 2008


As readers of the What Should Be know, I’ve become quite a fan of Charlie Cook of the Cook Political Report.  His piece, published on February 13 in the National Journal’s Congress Daily/AM, is entitled Obama’s Triangulation Squares With Public.  I recommend giving it a read:  Here are a couple of excerpts:

Regarding how Republicans in Congress are handling this economic crisis, it seems to appear that their efforts seemed designed to seek approval from the 28 percent of Americans who call themselves Republicans in Gallup polling, but there seems to be little if any effort to reach out to the roughly 72 percent of Americans who either consider themselves Democrats or independents.

Indeed, it would be hard to see how Republicans think they are helping themselves these days, other than trying to feel better about themselves, even if no one else does.

Isn’t that the truth?  When Republicans need to be reaching out to the 72% of America that no longer agrees with them, they’re busy consolidating their 28% base.  Yes, very smart.  Here’s another excerpt that shows Mr. Cook is an equal opportunity critic:

Democrats in Congress seem almost as out of touch with the public mood.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s comment that “Washington seems consumed by this process argument of bipartisanship,” suggests that she learned little from the 2008 election results. Voters really did seem to be serious last fall about Washington changing its ways, even if the old ways were more convenient for those in power.

After all, why try to work with the other side when you can just steamroll them? Granted, how Republicans have handled this economic crisis would certainly make it tempting to just ignore and work around them, but in the Senate, that won’t work.

Besides, the end product of a one-party solution might not be what Americans really want anyway. And while only 28 percent of Americans identify themselves as Republicans, the 36 percent who call themselves Democrats are still a far cry from a majority. Add to that the fact that an equal number can’t bring themselves to identify with either party, and it should be a sober reminder to Democrats that while voters might have rejected the GOP, they haven’t exactly embraced Democrats either.

Democrats, especially those on the far left of the party, seem to forget that winning an election, even one as impressive as the 2008 election, does not mean that a grand shift has taken place in the American electorate.  If Democrats push too extreme (liberal) an agenda, they risk alienation of the 36% who neither allign as Democrat or Republican, in addition to more conservative Democrats.  Rather than being hostile to Republicans, especially in the Senate, who force moderation of Democratic plans, they should be thankful that they just might be what ultimately saves them from themselves in the eyes of a more conservative electorate.

I’m writing this from Santa Fe, New Mexico where I’m attending a meeting of the organization for which I work, the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC).  At this meeting the chairmanship of the organization will pass from Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska to Governor Brad Henry of Oklahoma.  Unfortunately, Governor Palin won’t be at our meeting although we were hopeful until last week.  My stay in New Mexico is going to mean shorter postings, if any at all, the next few days.  I apologize.

I flew into New Mexico on Thursday and spent the night in Albuquerque with a friend I’ve known since high school.  On Friday we discovered that another of our close high school/college friends was also in town from Minnesota.  We learned that we’d each voted for Barack Obama for President this year — the first that any of us had voted for a Democrat for President in our lifetimes, having all voted for the first time in 1972.  I think this says a lot about where the Republican Party is heading and it’s not a direction any of the three of us are comfortable.  This, combined with the fact that Barack Obama was a highly palatable candidate, unlike so many previous Democrat nominees, and the choice was ultimately a simple one for us.  We all very hopeful that he will succeed spectacularly.

While on the subject of the unfortunate path of the Republican Party as of late, let me recommend an Op-ed that appeared on Saturday in the New York Times.  It is entitled Back to the Future.  It is well worth a read and is combined with a useful graphic.  Here a sentence from the piece: “Instead of building on this success [the 1980 and 1984 Republican platforms and election successes] and pitching even bigger tents, they circled the wagons and weaponized morality–the vision gave way to division.”  Yes, it did indeed.

The bailout of the auto industry remains in the news with Republican Senators indicating that they would oppose a bailout.  That’s undoubtedly a good thing, although a tough thing.  Clearly much will need to be done to assist and retrain displaced workers.  I linked to a David Brooks column in a posting last week entitled Bailing Out Detroit.  He’s written a follow-up piece that appeared in Friday’s New York Times.  It’s title is Bailout to Nowhere is also well worth reading.  He argues that our economy has thrived because it has allowed the old and inefficient to die (PanAm, ITT, Montgomery Ward) and the new and creative (Microsoft, Southwest Airlines, Target) to replace them.  Breaking precedent and preserving those parts of this industry that deserve to die would be a very bad idea.  I agree.

Finally, although I don’t normally find a lot of wisdom in Paul Krugman columns, I thought his Op-ed in Friday’s New York Times was an important read, if only for one perspective on how the country needs to take great care in its handling of the present economic crisis.  It is entitled Depression Economics Returns.

That’s all for today.  I hope all are having a great weekend.  The weather here in Santa Fe is gorgeous.

It’s been quite a week, a week I’m sure one none of us will ever forget.  I have no doubt that something transforming took place in the country with the election of Barack Obama.  America’s election of an African American president was an event that I hope begins to redefine racial relations in this country.  I find it hard to believe very many American’s weren’t moved, yes, to tears, by what they saw transpire on Tuesday evening.  Kathleen Parker sums it up beautifully in her column in the Washington Post on Saturday entitled Difference Dissolves In Tears.  I recommend it highly.

Yesterday’s Post also contained a grim reminder that for some the next election is already beginning.  Robert Novak writes in a column entitled Newt Next TIme that Newt Gingrich’s name is being most frequently mentioned as an early favorite among Republican insiders for the Republican nomination in 2012.  Contenders will undoubtedly also include Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee and maybe even Sarah Palin.   Given their social conservatism I’m not sure I’d put any on my favorites list at this juncture.  My own hope is that Obama will succeed as president beyond our wildest dreams and is re-elected to office in 2012 with margins rivaling Ronald Reagan’s 1984 re-election victory. 

That brings me to something I’ve been wanting to address for some weeks.  I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the parallels between Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama.  Here are two obvious parallels:  Both were elected following presidents (Carter and Bush, respectively) who’s administrations left America in the emotional doldrums with an electorate desperate for change.  Both men were elected in large measure on the strength of their communication skills and the promise of change and hope for a brighter future.  

There’s a third, however, that I think is particularly relevant.  Both Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama were elected having received in both primary and general election contests the strong and enthusiastic backing of the right and left wings, respectively, of their own parties.  Ronald Reagan went on to govern in way that both maintained the strong support of his party’s ideological purists and enabled him to win re-election by a strong majority of the American electorate.  There is nothing to suggest that Barack Obama could not do the same.  In other words, it might be possible for Barack Obama to pursue a distinctly “progressive” or liberal agenda and still maintain the support of the broad electorate. 

Having said that, I would offer some additional observations.   I would argue that the much of the country is center to center right in its political leanings and that the percentage of the country we can categorize is this way is roughly 33%.  Therefore, it is undoubtedly easier for a conservative president to move this center to center right constituency to the right than it would be for a liberal president to move this same constituency to the left. 

Additionally and significantly, Ronald Reagan in his entire tenure as president never possessed a Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.  While the Republican Party controlled the Senate for the first 6 years of his presidency, the Democrats controlled the House for the entire 8 years.  That meant that Reagan’s legislative initiatives during his entire presidency had to receive bi-partisan support in order to become law.  The relevant observation is that divided government therefore meant that Reagan almost assuredly had to govern in a less conservative and more centrist (and therefore popular) fashion that he might have done otherwise with Republican majorities in both the Senate and the House.        

Was this reality therefore potentially responsible, at least in part, for Ronald Reagan’s landslide re-election victory in 1984?  To get a sense of Reagan’s popularity, take a look at Reagan’s winning margins (electoral votes and percentage) on the chart contained in my posting entitled Perspective.  While he won by a very healthy margin in his first election, larger it should be noted than Obama’s margins (electoral and percentage of the national vote), President Reagan won by even greater margins in his re-election in 1984.

The lesson in this to Democrats and Barack Obama seem obvious.  As I and others (I think of the New York Times’ David Brooks in particular) have been expressing both before and since the election, the greatest danger to a successful Obama administration is that posed by the liberal wing of the Democratic Party and its control of the U.S. House of Representatives.  If Obama is unable to moderate Congress’ liberal tendencies, he will risk alienating centrist voters and a backlash as soon as the 2010 elections.  So while Democrats view their control of both Houses of Congress to be a great asset, I would caution that it would be better viewed as a liability that, unless managed, will make it less likely that Democrats will maintain control of Congress beyond 2010 and that Obama be re-elected in 2012.  It is a very compelling argument for moderation.

I will have a little more to say on this tomorrow.  In the meantime, enjoy the rest of the weekend. 

There’s a useful story and accompanying graphic in today’s New York Times to which I’m linking.  There’s a lot of talk about a huge electoral shift having taken place.  As we listen to such talk we need to put this win in historical perspective.  As I’ve noted before, I believe it is a very good thing that this was a clear victory.  I think the last two close elections have only increased partisan tensions because of the belief by so many that they’d been cheated of rightful wins.  I hope this election helps to ease those tensions.  The voters have spoken, let the elected leaders lead.  One more point:  If George Bush could claim mandates after 2000 and 2004 (a dubious claim) then this is certainly one.

The story is entitled A Blowout? No, but a Clear-Cut Win, for a Change.  It is informative reading.  The chart below gives a graphic perspective on where this election falls among others in terms of electoral vote margins of victory.  This graphic (link to graphic) accompanies the above-linked story.

Margins of Victory

 

I was writing a posting for the blog on Tuesday night as John McCain began his concession speech.  I commented in the moment what a wonderful and gracious statement he was making.  I’ve heard tell since of a number of people, who, when they heard John McCain speaking those words of concession on Tuesday night, asked “Where was this John McCain, the John McCain we’d always admired, during the campaign?”

It captures perfectly the question so many of us have been asking throughout the campaign.  Where is the guy we thought we knew?  Did he have to have run the campaign he ran in order to have had a chance of winning?  Of help in beginning to answer that question in one additional Washington Post story which appeared in today’s paper.  It’s by Michael D. Shear and is entitled Right Turn in July Put McCain on Unfamiliar Path.  Here’s an excerpt:

“If you had told me two years ago that John McCain would end his active national political life perceived by many as the candidate of the special interests tied to lobbyists; that many people considered his campaign dishonorable and focused on small things; that he wasn’t seen as presidential and the right person to have in a crisis; and that the broad center in American politics had turned against him, I would have laughed in your face,” said John Weaver, his longtime friend who resigned from the campaign in a power struggle last year.

“That’s not who he is,” Weaver said. “But that’s the campaign that he chose.”

I would argue that John McCain’s problem was more fundamental than one which began in July with a change in campaign strategy.  I would argue in began in the Republican primaries when John McCain, the square peg, began trying to insert himself into the round hole that is the today’s Republican Party.  It was not a good fit.  John McCain had to begin to become something that he wasn’t – an ideological purist.  He tossed the right a few necessary (ideologically conservative) bones and, miracle of miracles, it worked.  He secured the nomination–but at a dear price.  John McCain was no longer the John McCain behind the podium in Phoenix on Tuesday night.  That John McCain slid even deeper into the background as the advisers discussed in the article prevailed upon McCain to alter himself even further.  It didn’t work.

Two years ago when I began writing my book–its working title was “What Should Be”–I wrote that what America really needed was a candidate, a President, who would inspire the country again, a la Ronald Reagan.  Here is a little of what I wrote (a longer excerpt can be found here):

Additionally, of huge concern to me is that the America in the last 7 years has thoroughly squandered so much of the good will the world once felt toward to it and darkened the light of “that shining city upon a hill”, which America through its history has oft professed itself to be.   The abuses at AlGharib, the detentions without trial at Guantanamo Bay, the kidnappings and interrogation of enemy combatants, our policy toward torture, a government that has too often attempted to blur the lines of separation between church and state, these have all darkened if not extinguished that light.  What a tragic loss.   

I am very taken with the concept of America as a “shining city upon a hill”. I think it is a wonderful image and a wonderful vision for America’s role in the world. We are certainly a city on a hill watched, perhaps like to other nation in the history of the world, by the rest of world. For better or worse we are an example to the rest of world. My hope and my message is that the light can be so fueled or relit, as to shine more brightly and more positively on the world again. All is not yet lost.

What I am trying to say here is that I recognized then, which Obama’s election has just confirmed, that America had had enough of George Bush and his doom and gloom, America-against-the-world leadership.  It wanted something new.  It wanted an America it could be proud of again.  

The dilemma for John McCain and any of the Republicans running for President is that even if they had recognized this, they would have to have overtly distanced themselves from and indeed strongly criticized the Bush-Cheney administration.  McCain couldn’t bring himself to do that.  In fact, no Republican who did that would probably have been able to secure the nomination of this Republican Party.  

Barack Obama wasn’t so limited.  Weeks and months later when I began to hear Barack Obama speak words of hope and promise in Iowa and North Carolina I listened and began to wonder if they were real.  When I tuned in to hear Barack Obama’s acceptance speech at the Democratic convention in Denver I was ready to hear a message that would convince that he was indeed that messenger of hope.  Unfortunately I didn’t hear those words that night, instead I heard the words of a partisan Democrat running for President and trying to energize his base.  It fell flat with me.  In the end, for a variety of reasons but in huge measure due to the promise that he would offer us a very different American from the one being left to us by George Bush,  I ended up voting for him.  I am glad I did.  I am glad America did.  

I never ceased wishing, however, that John McCain would find his real voice, a real voice that would have been able to speak the truth.  Part of that truth would have been an articulation of a positive and hopeful vision for America very different from the one of George Bush.  He could not or would not do that.  Make no mistake that this would have been the real John McCain, the John McCain who spoke so eloquently on Tuesday night.

In closing let me observe that I believe people should be very careful in drawing too many conclusions about what this election of 2008 means.  Much of it was an overt negative reaction to George Bush, especially the youth vote.  I don’t see the framework, necessarily, for a generation of Democratic leadership.  While it is true that Barack Obama has garnered the highest percentage of votes of any Democrat since the Lyndon Johnson landslide of 1964, Democrats would be well to remember that from 1968 onwards Republicans won 5 out of the next 6 presidential elections.  It will all depend upon how the Democrats govern.  I have great hope that Barack Obama will be able to pull it off and chart a more centrist course.  America will be for the better for it.  However, with Henry Waxman, champion of liberal causes, already vying for Chairmanship of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the omens don’t look particularly promising.     

Having had a day to digest what happened on Tuesday, I have a lot of thoughts that I’d like to share.  Let me begin today’s postings with one that links to some of the best articles and Op-eds I encountered in reading the Washington Post and the New York Times this morning.  For some reason, the Washington Post skunked the Times today.  Three pieces in the Post stood out for me.  The first, Morning in America by Eugene Robinson continues to tell us the story of what I believe history will show as this election’s largest consequence – the clear message from America that black America is truly part of the whole.  It is a wonderful must-read.

I also find the David Broder piece, The Task Ahead, and the Dan Balz article Campaign Gives Some Clues How Obama Will Govern to be worthwhile reads. 

The Washington Post this morning contains four stories on the front page running under the bold headline, Obama Makes History.  I am going to excerpt of few paragraphs from 3 of the 4 stories because of the story they tell of what transpired yesterday.  You may link to the entire stories, which I recommend, if you’re so inclined.  America changed last night for the better.  It was a huge step forward no matter your opinion of the man who will be our next president.  These three stories provide a snapshot of the evening, the day’s historic significance and the challenges that lie ahead.

The first story is the Post’s lead, entitled Obama Makes History by Robert Barnes and Michael D. Shear.  Here are it’s opening paragraphs:

Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois was elected the nation’s 44th president yesterday, riding a reformist message of change and an inspirational exhortation of hope to become the first African American to ascend to the White House.

Obama, 47, the son of a Kenyan father and a white mother from Kansas, led a tide of Democratic victories across the nation in defeating Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, a 26-year veteran of Washington who could not overcome his connections to President Bush’s increasingly unpopular administration.

Standing before a crowd of more than 125,000 people who had waited for hours at Chicago’s Grant Park, Obama acknowledged the accomplishment and the dreams of his supporters.

“If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer,” he said just before midnight Eastern time.

“The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you: We as a people will get there.”

The second story, by Kevin Merida is entitled America’s History Gives Way to Its Future.  It tells a story of what the election of Barack Obama meant to so many in America and why America may be changed for the better, forever, because of it.  It is run under the heading “A Day of Transformation.”  Indeed it was.  Here are the opening paragraphs:

After a day of runaway lines that circled blocks, of ladies hobbling on canes and drummers rollicking on street corners, the enormous significance of Barack Obama‘s election finally began to sink into the landscape. The magnitude of his win suggested that the country itself might be in a gravitational pull toward a rebirth that some were slow to recognize.

Tears flowed, not only for Obama’s historic achievement, but because many were happily discovering that perhaps they had underestimated possibility in America.

When the novelist Kim McLarin watched her vote being recorded at her polling station in Milton, Mass., she stood still for a moment with her 8-year-old son, Isaac. “My heart was full. I could scarcely breathe,” she said. “What I’ve been forced to acknowledge is there has been a shift — it’s not a sea change. But there’s been a decided shift in the meaning of race. It’s not an ending. It’s a beginning.”

What kind of beginning it is, Americans were wrestling with late into the night, some popping champagne and others burdened with unease. Would enduring strains of intolerance lose their power or gain rebellious steam? Could new hope be harnessed to create new solutions? Is America ready to pull itself together or resigned to live divided? The campaign that began for Obama 21 months ago had raised in stark terms whether America was ready for a black president. Last night’s answer — a resounding yes — raises the next question: How much more change will America embrace? 

Finally, there is a story by Dan Balz under the heading “The Agenda” entitled Hard Choices and Challenges Follow Triumph.  Beyond the wonder of the election night celebration lies the cold reality of the daunting challenges our new President will face.  Here is an excerpt:

After a victory of historic significance, Barack Obama will inherit problems of historic proportions. Not since Franklin D. Roosevelt was inaugurated at the depths of the Great Depression in 1933 has a new president been confronted with the challenges Obama will face as he starts his presidency.

At home, Obama must revive an economy experiencing some of the worst shocks in more than half a century. Abroad, he has pledged to end the war in Iraq and defeat al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. He ran on a platform to change the country and its politics. Now he must begin to spell out exactly how.

Obama’s winning percentage appears likely to be the largest of any Democrat since Lyndon Johnson‘s 1964 landslide and makes him the first since Jimmy Carter in 1976 to garner more than 50.1 percent. Like Johnson, he will govern with sizable congressional majorities. Democrats gained at least five seats in the Senate and looked to add significantly to their strength in the House.

But with those advantages come hard choices.

In three parts, here is a video of Senator Barack Obama’s address to the nation last night from Grant Park in Chicago.  The version I selected includes the beautiful post-speech scene of Obama, Biden and their families.  I thought the subdued tone of the celebration was perfect.  Watching Obama and Biden walk out together also made be appreciate that the country made a good choice yesterday.  They will be a most welcome change from Bush and Cheney. 

 

 

It is now clear that Barack Obama will be the next President of the United States.  No matter one’s politics, I hope that every American appreciates the historic significance of what transpired today.  It is new day for America. 

I am watching Senator McCain make his concession speech as I type this.  He is delivering a wonderful, uniting, and gracious speech.  John McCain is a good man who would have made a good president.  I am confident he will be a force for unity in the Senate going forward. 

Let me close by linking to Eugene Robinson’s column in today’s Washington Post entitled A New Kind of Pride.  It helps tell us why this is such a special day for so much of America.  No matter how President Obama governs, America will be changed for the better, forever.    

The electorate is expected to give Republicans a thorough drubbing at the polls today, a clear repudiation of Republican Party policies.  It should be no huge surprise, however.  It’s certainly not to me.  The Party received a warning just 2 short years ago when it was trounced in the 2006 mid-term elections.  The warning went unheeded by the Party and its leadership, however.  Here’s what I wrote shortly after that election:

A very recent example of this was the Congressional mid-term elections of 2006.  The Republicans lost control of the House and the Senate and most analysts attributed the loss to deep dissatisfaction with President Bush over the Iraq war and to the myriad failures of the Republican leadership in both houses, failures that included significant scandal.  So what has been the response of Republican Party leadership?  It appears to have been that “we weren’t conservative enough – we lost our way and need to redouble our efforts to be the party of conservative values and fiscal conservatism.”  Clearly the loss was not so devastating as to be acknowledged as a repudiation of policies, but, perversely, just a minor correction for not being ideologically “pure” enough.   

 

Ideological purity.  It’s not what wins elections, at least in the whole of America.  As concerns Republican ideological purity, it may sell in certain districts in the south or rural America but it doesn’t translate on the national stage.  That the Republican Party has been all but captured by this ideological and southern/rural wing of the party is evidenced by the recent financial rescue vote in the U.S. House of Representatives.  I noted in my posting Who Are These Guys, linking to a Washington Post Op-ed, that while 86 retiring Republican Congressmen voted for the rescue bill no freshmen Republicans did.   While some of this can perhaps be attributed to fear by freshmen of getting out on a limb with voters very unhappy with a major turn of events, it also tells us that much of today’s Republican Party is comprised of very ideologically conservative stock.   

 

For those of you who’ve read the dialog between my friend Mario and me in the comments section to And One More Thing, you’ll know that Mario and I reach different conclusions about this election.  Mario expresses justifiable concern as to the dangers of an Obama administration especially coupled with a solidly Democratic- controlled legislative branch.  It is a reason for him to vote for John McCain.  While concerned, I keep having to remind myself that the transpiring liberal backlash is a natural and direct consequence of extreme Republican government.  Extreme government invites an extreme response.  Under more centrist Republican leadership today’s election results would likely be very different indeed.  Thus my attitude is to let the chips fall where they may.  So while concerned with the prospect of a period of liberal governance I rationalize that it is but the consequence of so many years of irresponsible conservative governance.  It somehow satisfies my centrist sensibilities.  For this reason, and others, I voted for Barack Obama. 

 

My real point is that the center is the place from which real progress can be made in solving America’s most daunting challenges.  The fringes are living in their own ideological fantasy land.  In my discussion with Mario he talked about “incrementalist” jurists.  My reaction to the discussion was that if George Bush had nominated incrementalist jurists like Anthony Kennedy and Sandra Day O’Connor, liberal and independent voter concern with the rightward drift of the courts would not have been as dramatic.  Likewise a Bush Administration foreign policy that was more internationalist and less arrogant American bully on the world stage would have sold better both at home and abroad.  Tax policy that was more rational and less ideological would have taken away one of the Democrat’s strongest campaign issues.   

 

From a Republican perspective, would it not be better for the country to be guided, incrementally, in a conservative direction?  Having done otherwise, the Republican Party is to likely experience the consequences of a full tilt leftward correction that could be, as some pundits are arguing, generational in duration.  All avoidable.  All avoidable. 

 

My own view is that leftist excess, as will likely develop, will be met with strong voter reaction in as little as two-year’s time.  The country, however, will be left none the better for it.  Certainly some of the excesses of the right will have been “balanced”–through appointments to the federal bench and the Supreme Court, for example–but there will be overkill.  Examples of this overkill could include significant give-aways to organized labor or restriction of free speech on the airwaves.  This overkill, in turn, will be almost guaranteed to incite strong reaction from voters.  The country in the meantime will likely be left with critical issues not addressed, issues as the country’s spiraling debt crisis (highlighted in yesterday’s posting containing the I.O.U.S.A. video).

   

Will the Republican Party learn its lesson and tone down its conservative message?  The Conservative Party in Britain has apparently learned this lesson.  Arguably so, too, has the Conservative Party in Canada.  That the Labour Party in Britain has been in power for as many years as it has is also testiment to that party’s having learned that center-left is better than no left at all. Can the Republican Party grasp that center-right is better than no right at all?  Will President Obama and the Democrats be willing and able to govern center-left rather than full tilt left?   

 

I am convinced that the party in America that learns this lesson first will likely govern for a long time as well.  I am not optimistic that it will happen here, however.  This is certainly Obama’s challenge.  If he can be that center-left leader ala Tony Blair and transform not only his party but the system, he could be a great President.  My hope and prayer is that President Obama is able to pull off such a miracle.  I will help him in any way I can.  I doubt, however, that it will happen in America given our two-party system and present political dynamic.  My own suspicion is that in America it is going to take the emergence of a third party or better yet, a third force–for example one that is overtly centrist and non-partisan–to alter the dynamic and make such a transformation possible. 

 

On this eve of new leadership for America, let’s hope I’m wrong.  We’ll know soon enough.  By spring we should have a pretty good idea whether something new is afoot or whether it’s just going to be more of the same.   If it is more of the same, I say it is time to work on beginning to make that third force a reality.   

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