Saturday, March 19, 2005

Everyday People

David Brooks writes today, in his typical "state-the-obvious" style, that while there are large problems facing America, the political parties don't seem able to come together to solve them. Yep. Really rubbing the old brain cells there together at the New York Times. Still they keep Krugman on the page, so they aren't all bad.

He also seems to think that the political parties might change in the future.
At the same time, Americans will grow even more disenchanted with the political status quo. Not only will there be a general distaste for the hyperpartisan style, but people will also begin to see how partisan brawling threatens the nation's prosperity. They'll read more books like "The Coming Generational Storm" by Laurence Kotlikoff and Scott Burns and "Running on Empty" by Peter Peterson. They will be more aware of the looming disaster. As the situation gets worse, the prospects of change get better, because Americans will not slide noiselessly into oblivion.

The party alignments have been pretty stable over the past few generations, but there's no reason to think they will be in the future. The Whig Party died. The Progressive movement arose because the parties seemed stagnant a century ago. I wouldn't be surprised if some anti-politician emerged - of the Schwarzenegger or Perot varieties - to crash through the current alignments and bust heads.
It's, of course, possible. But there are lots of reasons to think that this is unlikely. For one thing, you have huge media networks who are pretty well invested in the parties as they are now. For another we haven't had a serious third party challenger in years. Probably the most likely potential outcome would be for the parties to change themselves to better fit what they think people want.

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