Well, for one, there is clearly a burgeoning dissatisfaction with the major parties and their tug-of-war, zero-sum policies. On the national level, Republicans have become the party of no, and the Democrats have become the party of no spine. In Rhode Island, Republicans are a tragic minority and Democrats have been bifurcated into two camps - the Progressives and the Unimpressives. Is it any wonder that a third party candidate that offers plans before platitudes can garner nearly a quarter of the vote?
Next, people are absolutely DISGUSTED with the he said- she said, half-truth smearings that spew out of both parties during a campaign. I worked for a campaign during this cycle, and I can tell you that this was the most frequent comment I got from voters. One woman - probably in her late 50's - told me she wasn't voting for the first time in her life. I'd argue that negative campaigning disenfranchises significantly more voters than having to show ID at the polls.
The right-left paradigm needs tweaking. Instead of thinking of conservative vs. liberal as a straight line, lets bend that into a right angle and put conservatism on the x-axis and liberalism on the y-axis. Everyone falls somewhere in this field politically, but the issues that we're facing don't break down along party lines. Plenty of people are out of work, having their homes foreclosed upon, and watching their children's primary educations become a shell - D's and R's alike.
Now imagine, if you will, another axis coming directly out of the intersection of the x-and y- axes. That's the z-axis, and that's where these issues live. The Z-axis is coming straight off of the page and poking us between the eyes, saying, "Hello?! Is anyone in there?"
Mr. Healy came off as a man with some good ideas, common sense, and most of all, common courtesy afforded to his opponents. He was practicing Z-axis politics, and it would serve Rhode Island well if all of our elected officials spent more time on that axis and less time trying to pull policy up and across the other two.