Nevada's Senate race offers voters as stark a choice as they could want, says Nicholas Lemann in The New Yorker. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is in a tight battle for re-election against Republican opponent and Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle. Angle's pleasant, plain-spoken manner has helped her thrive, whereas Reid's lack of "natural gregariousness and geniality" has hampered his campaign. But this race is about something much greater than simply personal style. It symbolizes the "great clash of social visions" that lies at the heart of the the 2010 midterm elections. On one side is Angle's anti-government, anti-tax conservatism. On the other, Reid's New Deal-style belief in government's ability, and duty, to lift the nation out of hardship. Here's an excerpt:
Angle’s campaign ignores what would seem to be a basic rule of elective politics: That you have to promise to deliver government services to your constituents, especially in hard times. It may be that a large number of people in Nevada dislike Reid more than they like his works... The state’s population is unusually transient — in every Senate race, roughly 40 per cent of the electorate wasn't in Nevada for the previous race. It may be that people aren’t aware of Reid’s many services to the state. It may be that the unpopularity of the Obama administration's accomplishments, which Reid had so much to do with, outweighs the popularity of his more mundane local record. It may be that Reid gets blamed for the state's depression because he was in office when it arrived. Or Sharron Angle could be right: Many Americans don't want the government to help them.