The Realignment Begins
THE SHIFTING OF THE EARTH'S CRUST that creates the destructive power of a tsunami can be detected long before the waves crash onshore and sweep away everything in its path. Sometimes, the first tremors start so far out to sea that they remain unmeasured and unnoticed until it is too late. More often, the sensitive monitoring devices that scientists have placed on the constantly moving ocean surface can give those in the path of the oncoming disaster sufficient warning to take cover on higher ground, so that they can return and rebuild after the waves have receded. With pressure continuing to build toward America's next political realignment from the twin forces of generational and technological change, some politicians are beginning to sense that the ground is shifting beneath them as well.Those who are moving to higher ground and experimenting with new ways to be successful in this emerging landscape are much more likely to survive, and even thrive, when the full force of the waves of change arrive on shore and transform America and its politics.
The first tremor on the political Richter scale was recorded on November 3, 1998, when that year's congressional election campaign ended in a way few had anticipated. Traditionally, the party holding the presidency has lost, on average, twenty-nine House seats in the second term of a president.The reason for this pattern is generally attributed to the public getting weary of the incumbent and signaling its desire for change by taking out its frustrations on congressional candidates of the president's party. One month before the 1998 election, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives had authorized an impeachment inquiry to determine if President Clinton had lied under oath about his sexual