Wednesday, December 17, 2014

America: Midterms and Our Enduring Political Impasse

What people want is isn’t the blue model in its current decadent state or the inchoate mix of policies that “red dawn” states like Kansas and North Carolina have unevenly introduced. What they—we—want is a set of policies and ideas that harness the wealth creating productivity enhancements of the information revolution in ways that reduce the cost and enhance the quality of essential services (health, education, governance) while providing economic opportunity, middle class living standards and rising living standards to the American middle class. This ought to be possible and one day it will be, but at the moment we are still stumbling around in the early stages of one of the most disruptive changes the human race has ever known.

In the meantime, American politics feels stuck.


—Walter Russell Mead, “America after the Midterms: Blue Twilight, Red Dawn?” November 8, 2014


The Recovering Bureaucrat has long noted the enduring stability of America’s current 50-50 split, more or less a product of the end of the Cold War and the acceleration of the Information Age.

On this Mead notes, “We try the right for a while, and turn to the left in disgust—until the left fails as well and we turn wearily back toward the right.”  Why, it’s almost as if America has entered a great Schizophrenic Era!  To explain this, many in the MSM commentariat have now latched on to the (to them) comforting notion of “two electorates”: one presidential and liberal, the other midterm and conservative.  Certainly it’s a historic fact that more of us vote in presidential elections than in any other.  But history also refutes the nice “liberal/conservative” rotation theory.

What if the tidal forces of history—what Mead calls "one of the most disruptive changes the human race has ever known"—are simply too emergent and chaotic to yield a comforting and observable pattern?  The history of both the cosmos and humanity is non-linear; what’s happened in the past is not a reliable predictor of what’s to come.  But human consciousness has not yet evolved to include the capacity to grok non-linear dynamics and their external manifestations; in the Advanced Sector we are still bound by a Newtonian belief in mechanical regularity as the fundamental metric of reality.  The profound and disturbing implications of quantum physics remain a mystery for almost all of us.

Indeed, we may also be able to recite the formula represented in Einstein’s famous equation E = mc², but few of us have any idea of how its insights impact daily life.