He rarely does it, but this time George Will got it right on the mark:

“Today, Americans seem to demand a government that is an omnipresent and omni provident cornucopia of entitlements, but that also is small and imposes low taxes. Dissonance? This is cognitive cacophony.”

American voters want small government yet expect it to be present quickly and anywhere; want low taxes yet desire universal health care; are proud of a powerful military yet expect to never see a dead soldier.

This dissonance is apparent also on the presidential election. Voters want a president that is an economic whiz, a skillful and respected diplomat, a strong military leader, all at the same time being a common man that can relate to each citizen.

Currently both sides try to claim the prize of “commonality”, as they attack each other with accusations of elitism, aloofness, arrogance, superiority.

Some argue that this “praise of the common man”, shoot-from-the-hip mindset is another Bush legacy. It was indeed one of the strong sides of his campaign, connecting to the down-to-earth denizens while framing Gore and then Kerry as out-of-touch elitists.

But this trend has in fact started a long time ago. Bill Clinton himself was elected on his charismatic next-door appeal, and George HW Bush painted his opponent as an Bostonian liberal that didn’t know the reality of Middle America. Perhaps the nasty 1980 election was the last time candidates didn’t try to put themselves as “fellows”.