The Lovers And The Fighters
I have often thought that the two parties could be described as two fundamental archetypes: The Lovers vs The Fighters. I don't mean that pejoratively in either sense, but rather that temperamentally, we seem to be motivated by different impulses, both of which are part of all human beings, but which I can loosely characterize with these two terms. This has even been borne out by psychological studies:
As I watch the primary unfold, and see what looks increasingly like a deep desire among the Democratic rank and file to assert Obama's positive, uplifting vision of politics, it looks like Americans may have the starkest choice between a Lover and a Fighter in my lifetime. The man the Republicans appear to be about to nominate is so combative that even his own party fears he's going to knock their heads together as much as the other guy's:
John McCain once testified under oath that a Senate colleague inappropriately used tobacco corporation donations to sway votes on legislation. He cursed out another colleague in front of 20 senators and staff members, questioning the senator's grip on immigration legislation. And, on the Senate floor, McCain (R-Ariz.) accused another colleague of "egregious behavior" for helping a defense contractor in a move he said resembled "corporate scandals."
And those were just the Republicans.
In a chamber once known for cordiality if not outright gentility, McCain has battled his fellow senators for more than two decades in a fashion that has been forceful and sometimes personal. Now, with the conservative maverick on the brink of securing his party's presidential nomination, McCain's Republican colleagues are grappling with the idea of him at the top of their ticket.
I think he's going to turn that into the rationale for his campaign. He's going to run as the only guy who can get the Democrats and the Republicans in line:
A former colleague says McCain's abrasive nature would, at minimum, make his relations with Republicans on Capitol Hill uneasy if he were to become president. McCain could find himself the victim of Republicans who will not go the extra mile for him on legislative issues because of past grievances.
To McCain's allies, his fiery personality is part of the "Straight Talk" lore, and a positive quality in a passionate fighter who will tell you to your face how much he dislikes an idea.
"When he's arguing about something he believes in, he's arguing about it," said Mark Salter, a top aide to McCain. "It's an admirable trait, the capacity to be outraged."
Salter scoffed at the idea that McCain is not fit to be president and said most stories about his temper are "wildly exaggerated." He pointed to McCain's success at "across-the-aisle cooperation" with Democrats as an example of how he would deal with Congress if elected president.
Those legislative wins include a major campaign finance law in his name in 2002 and a deal with 14 Democrats and Republicans in 2005 that broke Democratic filibusters on judicial nominees...
Assuming that most Americans agree that the Bush and Delay style of Republican governance has failed, the political culture is polluted and the nation needs a new start, my guess is that the campaign will boil down to whether or not independents believe that the way to fix a broken system is through inspiration or confrontation --- in particular whether they believe that the radical Republicans can be tamed by inclusion and compromise or if it will take a metaphorical billy club.
McCain will make the case that he is a man apart, beholden to no one, the only person who can make both parties straighten up and fly right. He'll run as the fighter for America. Obama is making the case that he's a man apart, a leader of millions, who will make both parties work together for the common good. He'll run as the healer of America. It will depend a great deal on a non-partisan voter's personal temperament and worldview as to which one he or she will believe.