Grassroots activism and electoral reform are important. But only a political realignment can save America.
This is a great article. I've rarely seen a half decade of sociopolitical goings-on and the current state-of-affairs so well analyzed. That said, I do feel that there is a problem left unaddressed - the progressive (I use that term descriptively, not politically, though it may not be inappropriate) concentration of power in, specifically, the federal level of government, and how that has been leveraged by those who are fond of collectivist notions to diminish the ability of individual citizens to "vote with their feet". While that may seem a quaint notion, I tend to think it's actually the elephant in the room. The vitality of our democracy (again, I use that term descriptively) rests in trust in our shared dedication to a set of principles that are primarily concerned with protecting the individual from interference by authority. That stands in stark contrast to many of the tendencies of our current federal government, regardless of party, and I welcome the creative-destructive influence of some third party that can disrupt that stranglehold, though, I confess, I do hope that party maintains a proper historical perspective on the revolutionary role the US Constitution played in changing the relationship between the people and their government.
While I agree with many points in the article above, it is essential to recognize key reasons this polarization exists in order to come to any meaningful conclusions on how to end it. For example the politicians themselves have fueled much of the polarization. Let's use abortion as an example. Instead of voting on it themselves they punted to the courts then proceeded to use abortion as a cudgel for decades to whip up their bases. This strategy has accelerated to extreme levels after the supreme court ruling. Why? The midterms. Could this have been avoided? Sure, rational legislation similar to that found in Europe could have been passed. There are a number of similar issues being used to divide us.
In addition to the politicians, an even greater cause of polarization comes from their media lapdogs who have become arms of the parties. Let's use one of the author's statements above to demonstrate. The author hoped that Biden would be a moderate centrist instead of a puppet for the progressive. Biden clearly told us how he would govern before the election. I for one knew exactly what he was going to do. Millions of voters were aware. I suspect the news sources that the author consumes downplayed the truth of Biden's intentions so as to create the aura of the moderate, good guy, grandfather type. The polarization caused by mass lying on media platforms cannot be underestimated. Either through outright lies or omission this occurs on both sides of the aisle.
Even though media bias goes both directions, let's stick with this example. Millions of people also knew before the election that the Biden family was corrupt. In other words, Joe Biden is not a good guy. Much of the media labeled the Hunter Biden laptop as disinformation. Now however, even the NYT admits the laptop is real but strives to put distance between the President and his son. When I mentioned to one of my liberal friends that Biden was corrupt, she suggested I was watching to much Fox News. How many readers thought that when reading the above sentence? It appears now the FBI was in on the scheme to white wash Joe Biden and helped feed the media narrative. Did this polarize the nation? Big time.
Considering the above, how could anyone recommend that one party, even modified from its current state, take total control to eliminate polarization? Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Considering how easily duped Democrats were to think Biden would govern from the center and the Dems control over much of the media, it would be stunningly foolish to give them or any party total control.
If we could find a way to unlink media from the parties, we would go a long way to reducing polarization. A media which is only curious during Republican administrations is not really a media. A media that omits negative information about their candidate is not really a media. It's marketing.
An honest media would reduce polarization. Congress doing their jobs based on the will of the people would reduce polarization. Term limits would reduce polarization. Separation of powers reduces polarization. Total control by a mythical Democrat party would only make things far worse.
We need a Macron. One charismatic figure could jump-start a viable third party. Common Sense and Common Decency could be a slogan. The party could stress practical bread and butter governance and take a federalist approach to most hot-button cultural issues. I fear the Democrats can no longer do what they did (or pretended to do) in the '90s, and "break cleanly with the cultural agenda of their own left wing." That faction has a cult-like grip on the zeitgeist of the party, powered 24/7 by social media. Back to the charismatic savior: likable as he is, it's not Yang. This leader needs to be forceful, not conciliatory. Leftists and MAGA know-nothings are threatening to take down our democracy. They need to be challenged.
Yes, Fukuyama has been my Mentor (unknown to him) since his work on the End of History with a too strict Hegelian view. Then came his acceptance of the war of civilizations (however even there I come around a bit by watching the Russian-Ukraine war). But then came his critique of the new liberalism. He helps me think. And in thinking, I sometimes disagree with him.
This is an article I hope many people read. But a couple of things:
Yes, D's have been trapped in cultural issues by the R's who emphasize exclusion of others by ascription (Eric Foner) rather than the pluralism of democracy. In his marvelous book on culture, he demonstrates the importance of inclusionary politics in our social order. So that D weakness is also an important strength. Yet while I appreciate all the action on critical history regarding race, feminism, sexual preference, It seems to me that more than talking about it directly, the D's have to keep practicing it in attention to economic and political issues i.e. equality and justice for all issues.
As a community organizer, I appreciate his third way emphasis on the importance of groundswell. But his is politics is macro, mine more micro. I learned from another mentor how important is is not confuse "movement" with "organization." Mass movement without organization has fleeting capacity to act (power). Organization without movement is rigid, unchanging, and often, as Arendt says, banal. Politics is local. The parties and jurisdictions need to be very much in touch with people on the streets and helping them organize themselves on common issues that cut across the cultural identities.
Personally I would support a four-party system where citizens could be centrist or radical but forced to make coalitions and share power.
The analysis and the proposals that follow from it, the understanding between the almost irreconcilably opposed political blocs in US domestic politics, are certainly to be agreed with, but nevertheless it makes me think that such a clever thinker does not want to admit that, in order to unify the forces at home, there is no more significant force than the cultivation of the idea of an external threat. There is no lack of enemy images and the political representatives are doing their best to fuel the conflicts all over the world, from Ukraine, Kosovo, Taiwan and Hong Kong. It is to be feared that in the USA the irrational patriotism, which is cultivated anyway, will quickly turn into an aggressive nationalism, from which a very different kind of will to unite will emerge than the one Francis Fukuyama proposes as a great reconciliation project. I am astonished that this great political thinker ignores the warning sign of our times, which is so clearly visible.