A fluctuating economy. A dangerous foreign stage. Vociferous and often uncharitable dialogue.
It's the perfect storm. Well, maybe not perfect. But there is a lot of gas in the tank to make for a combustible campaign season as we move toward the 2014 midterm elections.
Yes, I don't like to pontificate on politics too often, my blog normally being a sacrosanct location to talk about the intersection of writing and life. But even this neo-libertarian independent voter is known for going against the grain once in awhile.
To spare you a yawner, I'll make it three brief thoughts.
(1) Counterpunching the overreach: Although America does not by nature have a monolithic movement that has Constitutional principles running through its veins, there are enough strong pockets of limited-and-restrained government advocates that we might have even more of a difference than the last midterms. The recent Supreme Court decisions in favor of Hobby Lobby, against labor union forced dues on home health workers in Illinois, and coming down on the side of Wheaton College against Obamacare...all of these come in the wake of increasing populist disgust with even larger cock-ups like the IRS and VA scandals. While President Obama could use the Hobby Lobby ruling to paint a picture that could rile up his liberal base (although that means force-feeding a 'war against women' narrative when Hobby Lobby offered and covered sixteen different contraceptives in its medical coverage), it is difficult to see how he can keep that motor running for the next 122 days and countless news cycles. And going back to the "I'll go at it alone" button on matters like immigration may only fuel the distaste with federal overreach. But stranger things have happened.
(2) Conservative Clash or Coalition? Another keystone to how things could fall out in November will be the ability of establishment, conservative, libertarian, and Tea Party camps in the Republican party to unify. Recent primary races such as the Mississippi Senate race (incumbent Thad Cochran over state senator Chris McDaniel) and the Dave Brat upset over incumbent Virginia rep and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor have set the politically conscious world on its ear with either acrimony (Mississippi) or newcomer success (Virginia). What will prove to be the decisive factor will be if Republicans shoot each other or set their unified efforts at victory in the fall. A coherent, positive narrative set on leading America to overcoming its challenges (which are legion) can tip the balance. Or they can be the party of "no", which would be less productive and less helpful to the nation.
(3) Leveraging turnout: Perhaps the most under-the-radar, yet critical, matter will be how campaigns can produce voter turnout and tap into citizen passions. Polling groups such as Zogby and others are finding it harder and harder to make the right call on how elections will turn out; even Rasmussen is finding things more difficult with an increasingly volatile electorate that can swell in an instant (as they did for Dave Brat in Virginia). Groups like Voter Gravity are poised to play a key role in this regard; take a look at what they can offer large-scale and local campaigns in terms of walk lists, integrated phone banking and mobile canvassing. The essential component to all this is how to help campaigns not merely promise things to voters, but how to build relationships with voters. Take a look, for example, at what the coffee-loving, deliciously intelligent Aubrey Blankenship (from the national staff of American Majority) shows about the VG Facebook App, which can be leveraged on campaigns of any size (from Senate to school boards). In short and in my honest opinion (and back to my point), connecting long-term with voters in productive relationships--and keeping those connections meaningful--will be the crucial center of what goes down in November.
And whatever does go down in November, what matters is not a Democrat in the White House or Republicans in the House, but the reality that there is a Messiah-King on heaven's Throne.