Michael Barone, a political analyst and journalist, studies politics, American government, and campaigns and elections. The principal coauthor of the annual Almanac of American Politics (National Journal Group), he has written many books on American politics and history. Barone is also a senior political analyst for the Washington Examiner.
Awareness of minority status tends to produce greater partisan solidarity. Extreme examples include Irish for 120 years after the potato famine, white Southerners for 90 years after the Civil War and blacks since 1964. That may be happening again.
Last week masked men, in camouflage garb with no insignia, dressed and equipped like Russian special forces, started taking over police stations and other government buildings in the Donets basin in eastern Ukraine. They appeared to be working in tandem with local militias in defying the Ukrainian government.
An economist serving on a second-term president's Council of Economic Advisers might expect to weigh in on fundamental issues, restructuring the tax system or making entitlement programs sustainable over the long term. Barack Obama once talked of addressing such issues, and Republican leaders like House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp are doing so.
Forty years is roughly the length of a working lifetime—and long enough for history to have taken some unexpected turns. And to have proved that long-term forecasts based on extrapolations of existing trends usually end up wide of the mark.
If you've been following events in Ukraine closely, you may have seen maps, available at electoralgeography.com, showing how the ethnic Russian areas voted heavily for one candidate and the ethnic Ukrainian areas for another.
When Alexis de Tocqueville visited America in 1830, he was struck by how many Americans were participating in voluntary associations. It was quite a contrast with his native France, where power was centralized in Paris and people did not trust each other enough to join in voluntary groups.
America’s two major political parties are inevitably coalitions, forced by the winner-take-all Electoral College and the need of candidates in single-member congressional districts to amass 50 percent of the vote, or nearly that, to win election.