It came as no surprise to me that McCain's convention bounce equaled Obama's. Polling in every other Presidential election followed a similar pattern. Neither was I particularly shocked that the selection of Palin as Vice-President, despite substantial leftist backlash, went over well with the American electorate. Voters are suckers for a gimmick and even more susceptible to novelty. McCain's Vice Presidential selection was a little bit of both.
The governor of Alaska is entitled to a media courtship and the subsequent glow which befits any new player on the political scene. Once that honeymoon subsides, however, she will be called to task by the press to clarify her position statements and excuse her baggage. Democrats are fortunate that the election is still a little less than two weeks away. Expect polls to favor the Arizona Republican for the next few days, perhaps even a week, unless something drastic appears on the scene between now and then. As it was for Obama, so it will be for McCain.
The narrow nature of this race prompts me to respond directly to a major assertion of the Democratic nominee. To wit, Barack Obama advances an agenda of post-partisanship and bi-partisan compromise. I wish I believed that were possible. This country is as markedly and rigidly split along ideological lines as I have ever seen it in my life. While the partition of this country in terms of red and blue might be a bit of an oversimplification, I certainly recognize in my own city that liberal and conservative people disagree on almost every conceivable issue. The era of landslides and sizable majorities may be over for a good long while. If the fault lines separating Republicans and Democrats were few in number, then it might be easy to find a middle ground between the two. These days, liberals and conservatives disagree with fundamental policy stances, which reduced to a single sentence represent profound disagreement regarding the direction this country should be headed. A liberal America could not be more diametrically opposed to a conservative America.
In recent times, people have referred to this schism as evidence of culture wars. If only it were that simple. Culture is only one facet of a very complex gemstone. If only Obama's pronouncement which states that the divisions which separate us are merely illusory could be based in fact, instead of idle hope. If the Illinois senator is to be elected, he will win narrowly, capture a thin majority of votes, and stake no realistic claim towards governing with a mandate of the electorate. As we do live in a country heavily fragmented between blue and red, the true challenge for whomever wins will be to change the minds of the skeptical. This nation cannot stay at fisticuffs with itself for much longer. With the current recession we observe the first inkling that our power in the world is not infinite. We must come together under a flag of truce or our stature will continue to decline. We have never seen eye to eye at any time before, but it would be to our great benefit to find a way to work together for a common purpose. Democracy, as we have seen recently, is often an inelegant system. Messiness notwithstanding, we must work together in spite of the limitations of our system and the realization of our flawed nature as human beings.