By Brent Budowsky - 10/21/08 04:57 PM EDT
Led by 3 million donors including 630,000 in September alone, 2008 will bring the first post-partisan realignment in American history.
2008 is 1980. Barack Obama is Ronald Reagan, with this difference: Democrats will win the presidency, 15 new seats in the House and close to 60 Senate seats in 2008 and 2010. But this is not a Democratic realignment; it is a post-partisan realignment caused by three factors.
First, whatever the lies told against him, Sen. Obama (D-Ill.) is a genuinely post-partisan figure, with a first-rate presidential temperament, who aspires to a politics of unity and respect. Voters get it.
Second, John McCain could have sought to lead a post-partisan realignment. Sen. McCain (R-Ariz.) doesn’t get it. He runs like Richard Nixon and President Bush, which is the exact opposite of what our times demand. Every slander inspires more Obama donors. Every smear alienates more independents.
Third, Republicans are prisoners of a right-wing base that radiates anger, rage, fear and derision that is everything Americans want ended after eight years of Bush. Many smart conservatives know this, yet are attacked as “conservative elitists” by this raging beast of intolerant know-nothings who are repellant to swing voters.
Obama not only has a first-rate presidential temperament, but surrounds himself with post-partisan figures of similar temperament such as Buffett, Rubin, Summers, Powell, Hagel, Lugar, Reed, Volcker, Daschle and Biden. Many smart Republicans who support McCain have great respect for Obama.
When the man who pals around with Buffett, Hagel, Volcker, Powell and Daschle is accused of palling around with terrorists, the lights light up on the Obama fundraising machine and heads shake at dinner tables throughout the heartland.
Of the 3 million giving money to Barack, most of them have never given political money before and have no interest in partisan politics. The tidal wave of new voters is mostly people who have never participated in partisan politics. The wave of new primary and caucus voters were mostly those who never had partisan interests, and were inspired by Barack or Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) The young people come in historic waves as Kennedy brought them to Democrats, Reagan to Republicans, and Obama to Democrats today.
Three million donors. 630,000 new donors in September. $150 million in a month. And more in October, inspired again by the lies McCain tells about Obama, and Obama’s vision of post-partisan America in this year when partisanship is loathed.
The implications of this enormous base of donors and Americans entering politics for the first time are more profound than any event in many generations. The Democrats will have real power, with high duty, and a special trust they had better live up to.
A President Obama must and will reach out to honorable Republicans in ways that historians will compare to Lincoln. He will bring into the center of his government Republicans of national stature and seek a new good will between both parties in Congress. If he does, those who resist will regret.
Obama understands the great political truth of 2008, which is that G.K. Chesterton could have been describing America in crisis with these words: We are all together in the same boat in a stormy sea, and owe each other a terrible loyalty. This is the story of the great post-partisan realignment of 2008.
Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .