17.2.16

THE END OF BUSINESS AS USUAL.

Reason's Nick Gillespie identifies the fruits by which we know the Democrats and Republicans.
When you look at what each party has wrought just in the 21st century alone, the only real question is why the Dems or Reps have any members left? Separately, they pushed (among other things) Medicare expansion, Obamacare, No Child Left Behind, massive, unwarranted, and ongoing expansions in food stamps, disability spending, drone srikes, losing wars, immigration deportations, and huge piles of debt. All while demonizing the other party and only getting together every couple of years to work around spending caps that were put in place because they couldn't get it together to write and pass annual budgets.

If we are lucky as a country, we are just a few more debates away from Trump and Sanders pushing party identification into the single digits—they are the only two candidates who are throwing off any sort of energy and interest but they are also genuinely unpopular with anyone other than primary voters, who already represent a dead-end mind-set in American politics. By presenting unapologetic, cartoon versions of what their parties-of-convenience stand for, they are revealing to all of us that the Democratic and Republican parties need to reboot themselves every bit as much as the Spider-Man movie franchise does.
Looking ahead, though, Mr Gillespie might still be seeing too rosy a future.
As currently constituted, neither party can reliably represent a country that is getting more and more socially liberal and fiscally conservative. In a word, a country that is increasingly libertarian in what it demands from government: Less intrusion into everyday life and better spending of tax dollars. If and when the parties decide they are serious about changing their platforms to better reflect more Americans, each might consider moving toward that libertarian center not for ideological reasons but for pragmatic ones.
Perhaps, but Mr Trump and Mr Sanders are filling beer halls with constituents who expect to live at the expense of others (Mexico pays for the wall!  Universal free college!) and accordingly giving rent seekers yuge opportunities to continue to suck at the public teat.

In a related column, Mr Gillespie seems to get this.
If it’s true that Trump and Sanders are the only candidates throwing off sparks, it’s worth underscoring that they are not genuinely popular among Americans writ large. Rather, they are generating intense responses among the shrinking ranks of partisans and dead-enders who respond to what they think are purer and purer distillations of what the parties really should stand for. As fewer and fewer of us choose to identify as Republicans and Democrats, those that still do will get harder- and harder-core until the number of true believers approaches zero.
The best possible outcome, dear reader, might well be continued gridlock.

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