ECONOMIC GROWTH

What Does 'Post-Partisan' Mean?

One might well have imagined over the last few years that we were headed toward an era of deeply partisan politics. Under the tutelage of Karl Rove, the Bush Administration “played to the base.” Most of the energy on the other end of the spectrum came from “netroots” bloggers who flamed Hillary Clinton, Joe Lieberman, and the centrist Democratic Leadership Conference with nearly the same contempt they showed for George W. Bush and Karl Rove. Yet here we find ourselves at a moment many describe a “post-partisan” -- with the two front-running Presidential candidates, McCain and Obama, best known for their ability work with and show respect for members of the opposite party. How did we get here, and what exactly is here?

While Obama may have nice things to say about Ronald Reagan, and while John McCain may be famous for crossing his party's leadership, there is no indication that voters themselves are becoming any less partisan. What helps make sense of the phenomenon is to realize that post-partisanship isn't about transcending left-right partisan loyalty. Instead, in both its original, and its evolving new meaning, it's substantially about generational change and generational equity.

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Author:

Phillip Longman was policy director and managing editor of New America’s Open Markets program.