And as polling and micro targeting and a corrosive media took charge, consultants recognized the short term value of taking the low road; abandoning campaigns based on persuasion in favor of campaigns based on “turnout”. This, of course, requires that each side firmly I.D. their voters into different ideological camps. This, in turn, has led to the polarized strategies that dominate the empty-rhetoric of both parties.
Political operatives are either too cynical to care about the consequence to their country, or too young to know that it wasn’t always this way. A Republican consultant recently commented on our Facebook page:
I’ll probably get unfriended before long but I’m truly interested in the organization and the thoughts behind it. Met Steve Peace a couple months ago and he is obviously involved and brainy. So what I’m asking IVN, and I’m serious, is to demonstrate (preferably with historical examples) a successful Republic where there are not functional political parties. Show us how that would work. I mean be practical. I say Id some some historical context because (a) Im too lazy to look it up and (b) this either is a huge problem for your position or a huge plus. I mean we can all sort of say ‘well this is how things should be’ but while history doesn’t repeat itself it sort of rhymes.
To answer his question, elections were not always conducted the way they are today. There was a time in which the two parties competed over ideas like how to expand economic opportunity, public safety, and justice. The adults in the process understood that being successful at governance meant balancing competing values. Today, the political discourse has been reduced to talking points designed to perpetuate a superficial battle between a “left” and a “right,” whereby party consultants can identify voters on each “side” and push them to the polls.
Elections should embrace the competition of ideas. Government’s purpose, in a democratic republic, is to reconcile different views through a series of temporary solutions; solutions that recognize the need for practical compromise in the imperfect world we live in today, as we work towards the more perfect union we seek to create.
Romney’s [and Obama's] consultants seek to manipulate short-term election outcomes, not to promote long-term good governance. This is not a reflection of the kind of people they are, but of the electoral process that political parties and consultants have steadily created. Until that process is reformed, Democratic and Republican consultants will encourage candidates to say nothing but the same partisan platitudes and vague generalities that have defined the campaign to date.