We're told that this is the era of partisan politics, of politics as war, of Tea Parties and talk radio ranters, of Democrats and Republicans shouting at each other across a bottomless pit -- all noise and no conversation, all heat and no light. All the commentators and pundits and bloggers say this is the case, so it must be true.
Except that I'm having trouble, in my travels around the Midwest, finding anything of this partisanship beyond an echo. I know there are Republicans and Democrats and libertarians (and maybe a Socialist or two) out there. The problem is that I can't tell one from the other.
I'm sure they're steamed up as folks anywhere about federal budget deficits and health care and the war in Afghanistan. But on the issues of real importance to the future of the Midwest -- education, economic development, high-speed rail, farming, venture capital -- most of the talk is bipartisan. This bipartisanship may break down over taxes. Otherwise, there's no Republican position or Democratic position -- just a broad agreement on what our problems are and, often, what we need to do about them.