Column: For all their faults, elections in U.S. far better than alternatives

The 2012 election is history. At both a national and state level, neither party had a clean sweep.

In Washington, the Democrats retained the White House and expanded their Senate majority but failed to take the House from Republican control. In Indiana, the GOP got the governor’s mansion and a veto-proof House and Senate but lost the superintendent of public instruction office and a U.S. Senate seat.

What can we observe about the campaign preceding the election? What does it tell us about the political process?

First, it was apparent that candidates of both parties “ran to the middle” trying to forestall the charge of “extremism.” There was no Barry Goldwater proclaiming, “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice” or a George McGovern proposing to give everyone $1,000 (about $5,500 in today’s dollars).

Indeed, most ads were about trying to label the other guy as being at the far end of the political spectrum. The ads were more about scaring the voting public about the other guy’s “radical” agenda rather than offering a positive agenda.

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