Monday, January 14, 2008

In America

As the Black Conclave dominates Things Jesuit across the Tiber, the Society's US flagship meditates on the presidential election:
The question before voters, therefore, is what kind of change shall we have? Many, including Senators Obama and McCain, have argued that true change must transcend traditional partisan divisions. Indeed, in this final year of the Bush presidency the nation does seem polarized to the point of paralysis—to such a degree that a group of elder statesmen, both Republicans and Democrats, organized a conference at the University of Oklahoma, whose president, David L. Boren, is a former Democratic senator, to explore the possibility of launching a candidacy that would move beyond “partisan polarization.” Their guest of honor was Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York, who at various times in his political career has been a registered Democrat and a registered Republican and has most recently identified himself as an independent. While consistently denying that he is considering a run for the presidency, Mr. Bloomberg has done little to discourage the efforts of his staff and supporters to arouse enthusiasm for a Bloomberg presidential campaign that would be self-financed and officially nonpartisan.

The conventional wisdom, of course, says that a third-party candidate cannot win a general election, that the obstacles are too great. But 2008 is already shaping up to be an extraordinary political year; and as the campaign moves forward toward other important primary votes and state caucuses, the candidates and their consultants will have to decide whether the conventional campaign wisdom of the past remains effective. Are the citizens of the United States truly wearyed of the polarization that was the goal of Karl Rove and his generation of political strategists? Will the television attack ads that cost millions of dollars and insult the intelligence of the voter remain a profitable investment for the campaigns? Or have we reached a turning point in American political history, where the challenges of our time, which include international terrorism abroad and growing economic disparity at home, demand a new kind of politics that better reflects the aspirations that all Americans share rather than the particular interests that may divide them?
...and on the mag's new blog, DC's cardinale laico Michael Sean Winters draws a parallel from the civil rights movement to the current moment's human dignity flashpoint:

Sen. Hillary Clinton tried to trumpet her political prowess while disparaging the verbal skills of her opponent, Sen. Barack Obama, with a lesson from history. Here is what she said: "Dr. King's dream began to be realized when President Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act."...

Clinton seems not to grasp how the moral vision of King required the political action of Johnson. A feminist first, she has spent the years since Roe v. Wade insisting that "you can't legislate morality" which is precisely what the Civil Rights Movement did. Remember, it was the segregationists who invoked their right to privacy in defending Jim Crow!

Ever the provocateur, Winters' maiden tome -- focusing on "How the Democrats Lost the Catholics and How the Catholics Can Save the Democrats" -- rolls out in April.