In an important new piece at Fox News, James Pinkerton asks a provocative question: what if neither the Republicans nor the Democrats are able to build a sustainable majority? Over the past decade, power has swung wildly from the Republicans to the Democrats and back again with alarming speed. The only constant seems to be that voters are dissatisfied with whoever is in power at the time. Needless to say, this does not make for stable or effective politics, and the resulting cacophony is doing little to reassure voters that the nation’s politics are on the right track.
Clearly, a lot of voters aren’t pleased. One would think that at times such as these, the parties would take a close look at their ideas and attempt to define a new agenda that would capture the popular imagination. Yet as Pinkerton argues, they’ve done exactly the opposite:
. . . [S]trangely, at the moment when both parties are failing to build an enduring majority, Democrats as well as Republicans seem to be retreating into their respective “bases”—that is, into their treasured, if not necessarily popular, orthodoxies.
And so today Democrats are once again the party of redistribution, and Republicans are once again the party of austerity. And as the partisan rhetoric heats up, the political divide between the two parties deepens. [...]
Thus the conundrum for both parties: People realize that there’s an overall problem, and blame politicians for not fixing it, and yet they seem to mistrust the specific solutions put forward.
Does that mean that the voters are inconsistent? Even hypocritical? That’s one explanation.
Another explanation is that politicians have not yet put forward solutions that win the voters’ justified confidence.
So let’s take another look at the budget brawl. Some might say it’s a shame that the two parties are fighting over future budgets, because both parties are sure to be wrong.
It is stunning that at a time of the greatest change we’ve seen in more than a generation, our national debate is not only polarized but stale. We are recycling old platitudes (Ron Paul arguing with Nancy Pelosi) rather than developing new approaches that take advantage of the new extraordinary new possibilities that the information revolution has created. The blue model system that has governed America is collapsing, yet many politicians are still unwilling to admit it, and those that recognize the problem have few novel ideas about what should replace it. There is ample room for a genuinely new, forward-thinking vision, and the first party to articulate it stands to reap electoral dividends for years to come.
Voters are hungry for visions and alternatives. Something new needs to appear.