Friday, July 30, 2004

A Brief History of Modern American Politics 

Charles Pierce, Altercation's Mst. Hmbl. & Obdt. Svt., explains it all in just under a minute:
For all the outrage, and for all the silly snarkiness of modern political journalism, which is far worse, we really are all in this thing together, and when the One Great Scorer comes to write against their names, that's going to be the thing that gets the movement conservatives sent off with the rest of the goats into the eternal lake of fire. The first national election I covered in 1980 was the one marked by the vicious campaigns constructed by that nasty closet-case, Terry Dolan, and his NCPAC goonery. That was the first turn in the road that led to the impeachment kabuki, and what happened in Florida, and the ravings of Grover Norquist, and the continued public existence of Ann Coulter, and all the rest of it. Conventional political mores -- to say nothing of more delicate constitutional substructures -- were abandoned. Worse, they actively derided and spurned. Now, almost a quarter-century later, we have political journalists who have never covered anything except this desiccated, blasted landscape. Small wonder that the red state/blue state paradigm dominates. It's being interpreted by people who have never seen a political dynamic in which people weren't fundamentally divided.

Which is why I'm all right with how the D's tried to do things this week. I liked how John Edwards -- good, alas, not great -- picked up on the theme when he talked about race. If they wanted to put a unified face so as to make the argument that we need more than ever to treat each other as equal lab rats in the Great American Experiment, and if that can somehow prevail against what is clearly going to be a wicked, un-American campaign from the other side, and if we can all pull back from the brink and develop a robust political culture in which bloodthirsty lunacy isn't quite as much of a career move as it is today, then the 2004 Democratic National Convention may be cited as the moment when the country took the first big step backwards from televised fratricide.

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