Ben Buchwalter

Purple Partisanship Rising
October 21, 2008, 8:20 pm
Filed under: 2008 Election, General Politics | Tags: , ,

To the GOP, McCain has recently become the friend that no one really likes. CNN reports that in tight House and Senate races throughout the country, Republican candidates are starting to distance themselves from McCain, who has been sliding in the polls in recent weeks with no sign of salvation. Even in the Republican primary, the presidential contenders followed a similar strategy by continually avoiding close connection to President Bush’s policies. 

It looks like McCain is the new Bush.

Though this is happening throughout the country, the clearest sign of the GOP’s discomfort with McCain is in Oregon. Trailing behind the Democrat Jeff Merkely, the Republican incumbent Gordon Smith has even emphasized his connections to Obama’s policies in campaign ads.

“Who says Gordon Smith helped lead the fight for better gas mileage and a cleaner environment,” a narrator asks. “Barack Obama.”

Granted, Oregon is more liberal than most states. So a Republican Senatorial candidate would typically run to the left in order to get elected. But this is happening across the country in states like North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wyoming. Conservative and liberal candidates alike have realized that Barack Obama is the most popular candidate since Bill Clinton and that he could help their chances to get elected, even in traditionally conservative districts.

This is strong proof that the politics of razor thin electoral margins and cultural antagonism that has prevailed in 2000 and 2004 is not our country’s default setting. Check out the website, which shows the electoral results of every election in history. As you can see, there were only a handful of elections in the twentieth century with miniscule margins (JFK v. Nixon, Carter v. Ford, Bush v. Gore). In fact, there are just as many in which one candidate has won overwhelmingly. Reagan won 489 electoral votes in 1980 and 525 in 1984. In 1962, Richard Nixon won every state except for Massachusetts. Even Bill Clinton, one of the most polarizing political figures by the end of his second term, won each of his elections by larger margins than Barack Obama is likely to.

Take this all into account and you realize that we agree more often than we disagree. We share the same goals more often than we strive for dominance. And everyone wants the United States to be great. We just have different ideas about how to keep it great. And it just so happens that in the past eight years, we have fought more often than usual. But if you take a step back and look at the big picture, that’s more of an aberration than anything else. And even in our most partisan episodes, as shown on the map above, the country as a whole is more purple than red or blue.

And maybe St. Obama can bring us back to our roots of cooperation.

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