The New Season

George F. Will, a political conservative, is noted for his even-handed criticism of both ends of the political spectrum. In the introduction, he points out some special features of the 1988 presidential election and campaign: It will be the first election since 1968 without an incumbent on the ballot; it is the first campaign since 1960 in which everyone knows from the start that both nominations are up for grabs; and, not since Franklin D. Roosevelt has a party elected a president twice and then held on to the office in the next election. Will presents a brief evaluation of the Reagan presidency, a lengthy essay on the Republicans, a lengthier one on the Democrats, and a concluding summation.

He discusses some recent demographic changes that make the notion of politics as usual passe. For example, two-thirds of the American work force are “new-collar voters"--some twenty-five million baby boomers (representing 15 percent of the electorate) whose social status lies somewhere between blue- and white-collar. What are their commonly held prospects, anxieties, and aspirations, and what impact might they have in the political arena? Another wild card for 1988 and after is the dramatic population growth of the Southern states. After the 1990 Census, the eleven states from Virginia to Texas will probably have 30 percent of the 435 House seats and 55 percent of the electoral votes needed to win the White House.

Will has written THE NEW SEASON in order to clarify the “civic spectacle now unfolding,” as well as to defend the dignity, gravity, and seriousness of politics as a vocation. Most readers will agree that these goals have been admirably achieved.