The New York Times didn’t ask me – hard to believe, no? – but if it had, I would have told them that the most important story of this election isn’t the 60 Minutes memo or the way John Kerry belittled Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi. It’s not the pronunciation of Lambeau Field or the Republican’s failure to dump Vice President Dick Cheney.
No, the biggest story of this election is the increased attention and interest that Americans are showing in politics. That attention has done wonders for stand-alone journalists like me. Without you – and your interest in this stuff – I wouldn’t be here. Nor would any of the folks whose opinions appear in today’s Times.
It’s a huge story. It’s been building for a long time but very little actual “proof” has been on offer. Today, that’ll be different. Across the web and throughout Big Media, there is plenty of evidence that voter turn-out will reach a level not seen since 1968 when 60 percent of registered voters went to the polls.
That’s a change in how this country conducts its affairs. It’s good to see. We get the government we deserve and for many years – not just the last four – we have deserved better.
In California, sustained interest in politics started with the recall of Gov. Gray Davis and the election of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Big Media dismissed Total Recall as nothing more than fickle California voters being their usual wacky selves. But Total Recall was the first inkling of increased – and dedicated – political involvement on the part of voters who are sick and tired of being taken for granted. Turn-out for the recall broke all kinds of records and, as the LATimes reported last month, (in a story now hidden in their archive) many of the 130 candidates remained interested – in one way or another – in the political process working on small-scale civic or other local projects. Earlier this week, Secretary of State Kevin Shelley said he thought turn-out for today’s election – in a state that’s safe for Democrat John Kerry – could go above 70 percent. And Gov. Terminator isn’t running in this election.
Political involvement is here to stay.
And so are we. There will be more details in a few weeks but Politics From Left to Right is set to grow We’ll be adding writers, pages, and other stuff. So stay tuned. I have a feeling you will.