Four years ago next week, Sen. Barack Obama stood before a crowd of 17,000 in St. Paul, having won the Democratic nomination to become President of the United States. "You chose to listen not to your doubts or your fears, but to your greatest hopes and highest aspirations," he said. "Tonight we mark the end of one historic journey with the beginning of another."
Last night, when Mitt Romney locked down the Republican nomination by winning Texas's primary, he celebrated with a 118-word statement while he held a fundraiser with Newt Gingrich and Donald Trump, two of the biggest loud-mouth distractions in American politics today. Romney's win came a day after a New York Magazine article in which Obama's team very publicly broadcast its strategy to pummel Romney's business career and term as governor into an unelectable pulp.
Blame the increased polarization in our politics, or the millions of dollars that have fueled virtually non-stop advertising campaigns for and (mostly) against the president's initiatives. Blame the slow and stagnant economic recovery, or the cable news bubble that seeps ever deeper into the media's consciousness. Whatever the cause, the effect is that the electorate is narrowly and deeply divided -- about half the electorate will vote for Obama, about half will back Romney, and the very few in the middle are likely turned off by the entire debate.
That suggests we won't see the kind of movement that swept Obama into the White House four years ago.