From Tom Dispatch:
Was 2006 a Turning-Point Election?
On the Road to 2008
By Steve Fraser
All media eyes have turned toward the presidential election of 2008. Like the headlights of an onrushing train, it mesmerizes. Every news bulletin about the latest bloodbath in Iraq, each ominous forewarning of a face-off with Iran, the endless dirge of abandonment and despair issuing from New Orleans, the daily register of those cut loose from any semblance of a social safety net, public or private, each new official confirmation that the Earth is reaching a boiling point compels us to anticipate the 2008 election with fear and trembling, and with the greatest expectations. Something momentous might happen then. Haven't we already seen the first signs of that in the extraordinary electoral outcome of November 2006?
All elections are, in some sense, turning points. They register, however murkily, shifts in popular sentiment. But this recent off-year election has excited more than the normal number of pregnant speculations and, of course, put one question in particular in boldface type: Did it signal the end -- or at least the beginning of the end -- of the conservative counter-revolution that first gained traction with Ronald Reagan's presidential victory in 1980?
A turning-point election is something special indeed. Everything about the country's political chemistry changes as its geopolitical make-up is reshuffled, as cities, towns, and whole regions start voting in a new way. Suddenly, the normal fault lines in political demography no longer apply as ethnic, racial, gender, and socio-economic groups simply stop voting the way everyone expects them to.
Turning-point elections can inaugurate new distributions of wealth and power. Social classes and elites accustomed to rule find themselves struggling to hold on to, or compelled to share power, they once felt entitled to wield unilaterally. The whole political economy becomes subject to serious reordering. With so much at stake, such elections can ultimately be the occasions for revolutions in the country's moral tone, its basic cultural and ideological orientation.
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