Polls are confirming what I’ve been feeling for over a year: the 2004 Presidential election will be the most polarized in decades.  The response to this lack of middle ground—aside from those who disengage entirely—has been to accelerate the already lamentable retreat into political echo chambers.  We were warned: among the many cavils in response to the celebrations of the Internet’s emancipation of political media were admonitions against the Balkanization of information and concomitant distortion.

The MoveOn.org experiment continues to turn heads with its volunteer mobilization, an achievement that probably would not have been possible without some rabid anti-Bush preaching to the choir.  The downside to Internet organizing, of course, is that it is all too easy to lose control over the message, as the kerfuffle over the latest Godwin’s Law violation shows.

What’s been depressing me about contemporary political discourse is that I’m having extreme difficulty modeling the thinking of the average Bush supporter, or, more importantly, the Bush supporter whom I might putatively be able to persuade to change his vote.  At the grassroots level, American politics seems to lack the maturity that comes with realizing that one’s own reason(s) for supporting/opposing a candidate are not necessarily the most persuasive in trying to sway others.  The aforementioned Balkanization will only exacerbate this trend.

I was therefore pleasantly surprised by the winner of the "Bush in 30 Seconds" contest, particularly considering who was doing the judging.  Because I can’t model the worldview that believes the Bush Administration has made the world safer, I don’t have a strategy to disabuse anyone of it.  I am much more comfortable rebutting the post-Clinton assertion that "the grownups are back in charge" by simply referring to the budget.  To every American voter who thinks that the invasion of Iraq strengthened U.S. power abroad, who thinks the Department of Defense Against the Dark Arts Homeland Security is acting wisely and competently, who thinks "moral clarity" is an important quality in elected officials, or who thinks (with little argument from me) that the current crop of Democratic nominees is uninspiring, I would say only this: George W. Bush ran as the "C.E.O. of America;" do you really want to be a shareholder in Enron?

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