One thing that I’ve found very exciting about the lead up to the midterm elections is that candidates appear for the first time in years to be talking about more than the one issue of terrorism. Candidates are debating the economy–whether we want one that grows quickly and unevenly or more gradually and more humanely. They’re talking about ethics–and not just the Foley scandal but more broadly corporate corruption of Washington. And they’re talking about an actual exit strategy for Iraq rather than the tired politics of “better news is around the corner.” Maybe I am too optimistic but it strikes me that this may actually be an election where representatives are sent to Washington to represent the many issues of our everyday lives and not just to win on fear tactics and gay marriage debates and then make a set of other policy decisions that do not reflect the will of the people. It appears the public has become so fed up with this ideologically-driven governance that they are refusing this time to let these other issues they care about fall by the waste side. This could be exciting news for citizens and our democracy.
And if terrorism can become one of numerous issues on the agenda it may bode well for a bipartisan opportunity to get needed reforms accomplished. One of the current challenges is that because terror has been THE voting issue for such a long time, the parties have a reason to try to create differences between themselves. In a country where this is one of many issues, perhaps the parties will have more reason to work together to get things like port security done rather than continuing to use these issues for parisan grandstanding.