American Politics In The Networking Era
By Michael Barone
© National Journal Group Inc.
On the surface, the 2004 election looked very much like the 2000 election. George W. Bush was again running against a liberal Democrat who had spent much of his career in the Senate and who had clinched his nomination by early victories in Iowa and New Hampshire. In November, 47 of the 50 states and the District of Columbia voted for the candidate of the same party as they had in 2000. Only three states switched, New Hampshire to the Democrats, Iowa and New Mexico to the Republicans. Bush won again, this time without a court battle. Republicans ended up with majorities in both houses of Congress. But in many ways, the 2004 campaign was very different from 2000. It produced a different kind of politics, a politics that reflects the character of the post-industrial, networking age we live in.
For changes in politics resemble changes in the larger society. For several decades now, we have seen the change from industrial America to post-industrial America, from an industrial nation characterized by centralization and large command-and-control organizations to a post-industrial, Information Age nation characterized by decentralization and network-connected organizations. This is an America where Microsoft overtakes IBM, where FedEx overtakes the U.S. Postal Service, where Wal-Mart overtakes Sears. It is an America whose network-connected Special Forces overthrow the Taliban in Afghanistan and whose network-connected Army and Marines overthrow Saddam Hussein in Iraq. It is an America where the abolition of guaranteed welfare has produced higher incomes and greater independence for the target population, where network-connected police forces have cut crime by more than half in New York City and shown the way toward vast reductions in crime across the nation. Our private sector and important parts of our public sector have moved from industrial command-and-control America to post-industrial, Information Age, network-connected America. In 2004, our politics followed.
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