“What’s wrong with democracy?” is a common question these days. We’ve asked it ourselves. No matter your political bent, there’s a fear that politics has become so polarized that democracy might be broken.
Two Stanford University professors, however, have a different take: Perhaps democracy is doing exactly what is needed. In a piece for National Affairs, David Brady and Bruce Cain note how different the America of today is from the America of 30 years ago. Back then, American voters leaned strongly Democratic; now they’re split fairly evenly among Democrats, Republicans, and independents.
Equally important, the parties of today are a hot mess. What’s the Republican position on trade? The Democratic position on free college tuition? On an array of issues, the two parties have no unified idea who they are.
American voters have been radically reshaped by trends of globalization, immigration, religion, and race. The parties are only now starting to catch up and evolve. And historically, when America’s parties have been in flux, the country goes through a period of four-wheel-drive politics, the authors say.
“Democracies cannot and should not resist change,” they add. “They need to enable it to proceed freely and fairly. That’s what our party coalitions do. And it seems to be what they are doing now, in their usual messy and uneasy ways.”
Now to our five stories for your Wednesday.