What is influencing American politics?

The Frontier, says William Tucker in The American Spectator.

In 1893, Frederick Jackson Turner published a seminal essay in which he argued that having an open frontier on our westward boundary had been a decisive influence in shaping the American character. The frontier experience had leveled the class traditions from Europe, proffered opportunity to the common individual, and created a spirit of independence that had constantly posed a challenge to entrenched Eastern elites. Populist movements that had continually reinvigorated American politics had all arisen on the frontier.

It is no accident that this year the two Republican candidates come from thinly populated Western frontier states. Sarah Palin perfectly embodies this frontier spirit and both candidates are considered “mavericks,” earning their spurs by taking on entrenched interests. Obama, on the other hand — though he may not realize it — draws his strongest support from Eastern colleges and established hierarchical institutions. He is the candidate of the non-profit sector, that odd hybrid of a capitalist society in which educated people try to claim money from profit-making institutions and “turn it to good use,” usually following their own proclivities.

He discusses many other influences, including race and money.

It is an interesting and, perhaps, foundational read.