Salena Zito

That belief has led an unprecedented number of Americans to conclude that if they can simply throw out all the bums (including their own members of congress and the president) and replace them with someone new, things will improve.

Steve McMahon, a Democrat who runs the Purple Strategies consulting firm with Republican Alex Castellanos, has a warning for incumbents of both parties:

"Americans are completely fed up with the gridlock. They can't believe no one is willing to compromise, or that both sides would take America to the edge of default – while the whole world watched in disbelief – just to score political points.

“Now they are perfectly willing to toss everyone out, including politicians they have voted for over and over again. This isn't a partisan problem. It's an incumbent's nightmare."

Mark Rozell, a public-policy professor at George Mason University, believes “the public is not as polarized as commonly assumed.” Instead, it is “more in the middle than anything.”

Yes, some citizens beyond Washington get caught up in the sort of discourse coming from the national media and many political figures. Yet most care more about how a policy affects their daily lives, not about whether it helps Democrats or Republicans.

“There is a big disconnect, in that sense, between the insider discourse and what most citizens actually care about,” Rozell said.

Sitting in an airport recently, waiting for a much-delayed flight, I watched a military unit pass through one of the concourses. Spontaneous applause erupted, offering those soldiers an honest expression of gratitude from average citizens.

That is the America that Tom Link says he knows, not the America that he says he sees in the national news.

Salena Zito

Salena Zito is a political analyst, reporter and columnist.