Here’s an interesting statistic: the country’s 50 state legislatures contain 3,657 Republicans and 3,656 Democrats. Out of over 7300 elected legislators, the Republican Party currently holds one more seat than the Democrats.
Is this polarization? Or an inability to define what we stand for?
In the mid-1970s, columnist David Broder (The Party’s Over) wrote that the political parties were no longer important political, governmental or social institutions. They no longer stood for anything. They were loose clubs that people selected out of habit, because their parents belonged, or their surrounding community was affiliated with one or the other party. They were so large that gravity – the need to get elected across a broad geographic and political landscape – sucked everybody into the political center. A party platform was so generic that one could be passed under the pen of either party affiliate, and no one would have any trouble signing it.
So, do we believe in anything? Can we define a Democrat? A Republican? Even the media has homogenized each party: their graphics have colored Republican states ‘red’, and Democrat states are labeled ‘blue.’ The 2004 vote for President in that state may have been separated by 1 percentage point, but it still only gets one color...
Do individuals have core beliefs? How do we express them? And how do we express them as social – and thus, governmental – actions?
Lots of ink can be spilled on this issue.