To whet your appetite, here's an excerpt from an excellent Matt Bai piece on the fading of political (and brand) loyalty in America:
... The realigning swing of the pendulum is almost certainly a relic of another age, never to be replicated, or at least not in our lifetimes. One reason is that politics in the television (and now Internet) age are less transactional and more ideological than they were in the long period between the Civil War and civil rights ...
Even more consequential, though, is the fast-growing swath of voters who can summon no affinity for either party ... The most prevalent ideology of the era seems to be not liberalism nor conservatism so much as anti-incumbency, a reflexive distrust of whoever has power and a constant rallying cry for systemic reform.
And so the fundamental mistake that Republican and Democratic strategists each made after their respective takeovers was to believe that their victories represented an ideological shift among independent voters, the kind of sweeping philosophical reassessment — Hey, you know what? We really do need a big centralized government! — that would empower a party for generations to come. In fact, far from swinging wildly between conservatism and liberalism, a critical mass of dissatisfied Americans cast the exact same vote in 2006 as they did in 1994 — a vote against entrenched power in the Capitol. The only real difference between those two elections lay in which party happened to be holding the gavel at the moment of revolt.
On a deeper level, the fading dream of realignment also reflects our attitudes about permanence in a society that judges its digital TVs by their “refresh rates” — that is, the number of times per second that the pixels on the screen rearrange themselves to create a more eye-popping picture than the one that just existed. In an accelerated culture, our loyalties toward just about everything — laundry detergents, celebrities, even churches and spouses — transfer more readily than our grandparents could have imagined. Now we dispose of phone carriers and cash-back credit cards from one month to the next, forever in search of some better deal. Forget the staying power of an institution like Johnny Carson; when Jay Leno starts to feels a little stale, he is shifted to prime time, then shifted back to late night. It was probably never very realistic for modern political thinkers of either party to dream of a 50-year reign. This century’s tectonic realignment is more likely to last 50 months or maybe 50 weeks, depending on how long it takes voters to seek out the latest offer or the newest best deal.It isn’t only majority parties that will have to recalibrate their ideas of longevity in this new environment. It’s the individual politicians, too. <Continue reading.>