Saturday, November 08, 2003

The Economist on Increasing Partisanship in America

This article reads almost as if it were cribbed directly from my own private thoughts, so thoroughly is it in line with what I've long been convinced about the tone of political debate in America nowadays.

With the decline of swing voters, there seems less and less point in running presidential campaigns to appeal to the slim middle. Instead, elections have become contests to mobilise core supporters. The 2000 and 2002 elections were both turn-out races.

The upshot is that politics has become warfare. What matters most is the size and bloodthirstiness of your troops, not winning over neutrals. Politicians take the first opportunity to reach for weapons of mass destruction, such as Bill Clinton's impeachment or the recall of Governor Gray Davis in California. It is no longer possible to agree to disagree. Your enemies must be “Stupid White Men”, guilty of “Treason”, who live in a world of “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them” (to quote the titles of three of this year's political bestsellers).