The 2000 election was much more of a nail biter than 2008, yet third party candidates got 4% of the vote. The 2008 campaigns lacked substantive debate on policy. The result showed a much more divided nation.
If you would concede, for the moment, that a social-change campaign is an intrinsically divisive form of politics; then one discovers an interesting corollary: The social preservative campaign must also be intrinsically divisive.
The statement "This sentence is true" is as much a paradox as "This sentence is false."
The real society shattering divisions happen when social engineers are able to contrive a resonating discord between a social change and social preservation campgaign.
Buckley and his crowd were foolish when they accepted the label "conservative" for their set of principles as it allows the left to frame the cause of classical liberalism as regressive.
This problem really comes to the fore when you have leaders like Bush and Cheney who are not adept at presenting their case to the people. We had eight years where people were able to project all sorts of images onto the Bush/Cheney presidency.
One interesting commonality between Bush and Obama is that the primary strength of the candidates is their ability to organize the inner aperatus of their respective parties. Both candidates simply grabbed the costume of "agent of social change" or "agent of social preservation," then ran a campaign based on tactics, not issues.
The result of this style of campaign is that people end up projecting images onto the candidates.
The method creates a deeply divided society.
rmwarnick pointed out that I do a horrible job discussing this aspect of politics. He said of the long posts:
Is there some kind of blogosphere prize for the least reality-based commentary? I think you are a contender!
What I was trying to do is to repeat the type of nonsense that happens in many poli-sci and sociology classes. The aim is to show that they way our professors are teaching us to think about politics and political tactics is the source of the shrill political divide in our nation. Marx did not define communiism. He devised a change-style method for rising to power. Hitler used the Marxist method of agitating for change.
Snipy insults work sometimes. RM's snipy insult didn't really hit a mark because the gist of this series of posts was a belief that both Bush and Obama ran campaigns that weren't reality-based.