Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the President to explain to us what the exit strategy is.    The Honorable Governor of Texas, George W. Bush

I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.    Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Chutes and Ladders

I said we would talk a bit about the fact that the point at which the majority for each party meets is inexoribly tied to the median income, and that it's no accident.

Everyone talks about the mainstream. Like the Mississippi River the mainstream wanders here and there and sometimes off on strange tangents and through divides and confluences. There was a time when the politics of this country could afford these meanders and eventually gravity would set a course and we could all kinda float thataway.

Those days are gone.

We have this thing here called the Wisconsin Dells. It's one of those places where you take your kids and spend outrageous amounts of money for three days. There are Go-Karts and helicopter rides and these amphibious things that drive right into the river and go by some unimpressive sandstone formations (the actual Dells), casinos for mom, overpriced, overcrowded restaurants with hundreds of whiney ten year olds waiting in line, loudmouthed overachievers in walking shorts and golf shirts spitting juice from their Italian Beefs while they go on about their 200 grand this and 40 grand that. You know the place. We took the kids there once and had a great time, sardonicism all aside.


At the Dells is a world class water park called Noah's Ark. On my commute home I pass a billboard for this adventureland and I get to thinking about this median income phenomenon and presto! I have the perfect analogy to describe the relationship mentioned several untidy paragraphs ago.

Picture a cross section of a water slide, with the center the median income, if you will. Down this chute passes the water, the public, with all these little bubbles, the votes. Down the straights the bubbles flow half on the left and half on the right of the center. How does this differ from the more haphazard mainstream analogy? How is each philosophy mirrored so precisely in the other so as to meet in this exact center? How is it that these political and economic midpoints coincide?

Two thoughts on this for now. First is that the science of politics has developed to a degree that this middle ground can be analyzed ad nauseum, thus is provided a defined place for conservatives and liberals to stand, positioned only as far to the extreme as will give them definition. This they do to the same extent, hence equal participation in the determination of the course, equalized appeal to all economic classes and uncannily equal shares of the vote, as in the 2000 election.

Secondly, omnipresence of the media and perennial obstructionism by the outs take an equal toll on the parties' agendae, like the steep slippery sides of the slide they eliminate the opportunity of escape from the center.

By this theory some extra element has to exist to move the center of vote off the center of income. This is a curve. On a curve inertia (issues, events) for a time can overcome gravity (economic reality). Sometimes a big issue, a big curve can create a big shift. Like a war.

Maybe some day we'll come across a too sharp curve and we'll find ourselves all going over the edge. In some office, somewhere, a Karl Rove will be going, "Oops."


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