Summary: I’ve long believed that our political system has rapidly accumulating strains, soon to rip the system apart so that new coalitions emerge, centered on new issues — political realignments (see Wikipedia), as has happened before in American history. Not the widely anticipated move to the “middle” (a two-dimensional line), but political reshuffling in multiple dimensions.
Perhaps we now have the first signs of it happening. On the other hand, just as the first Robin doesn’t mean Spring has begun, rising stress does not mean the realignment has begun.
On the Right
The Right, and especially its vanguard — the Tea Party movement — have become servants of the 1%. They’re helping the 1% build the New America described in scores of posts on the FM website. They are one possible future for America.
- A belligerent foreign policy, supporting a mad unprofitable empire.
- Political divisions between hostile races and religions.
- Growing inequality and falling social mobility (e.g., defunding public schools and universities).
- Tax burden shifted, as the GOP is doing in the States, from the rich to the middle class.
It’s a common pattern in history. It’s a change from the America-that-once-was. It’s a slow-motion revolution. It might push some into defecting from the Right to a new movement closer to their conservative principles.
Looking to the future, neither the GOP nor its Tea Party faction are all grey-hairs. As shown by this Pew Poll, published 16 October 2013. The Republicans are slightly light on Millennials (born after 1980, so age 18 – 33) and slightly heavy on Boomers. The Tea Party movement is catastrophically light on Millennials and over-weight on Boomers. The cutting edge of society in terms of youth and energy is not with the extreme Right.
On the Left
There is no equivalent of the Tea Party on the Left. After decades of decay, the Left’s too decrepit to have a broadly political movement; all that remains are single-issue groups. Like the unions and the environmentalists. With an aging membership, and a slow loss of public support.
From an article by Paul Voosen in E&E Publishing, 13 April 2012 (unrelated to this post, which I highly recommend):
The average age of a conservancy member is 65. The average age of a new member is 62. Each year, those numbers creep upward. Only 5% of the group’s 1 million members are younger than 40. Among the “conservation minded” — basically, Americans who have tried recycling — only 8% recognize the group. Inspiration doesn’t cut it anymore. Love of nature is receding. The ’60s aren’t coming back.
It’s a problem confronting all large conservation groups, including the World Wildlife Fund, Conservation International and the Wildlife Conservation Society.
More evidence: “The green movement has a Millennial problem“, Christopher Ingraham, blog of Washington Post, 7 March 2014. Here’s the bottom line:
Beyond this for the Left, and its environmentalist wing, looms the likely (but not yet certain) defeat in the climate wars, into which they’ve invested so much of their credibility and resources.
The sight of the gallows focuses the mind. Some on the Left have shaken off their dreams and begun to seek a new political foundations for the 21st C. For example, environmentalists are struggling to forge a new movement that can win in the 21st century. For example, see “Conservation in the Anthropocene: Beyond Solitude and Fragility“, Robert Lalasz, Peter Kareiva, and Michelle Marvier, The Breakthrough Journal, Winter 2012. The need for action exists, so the opportunity exists for them to grow, and perhaps even become the nucleus for a larger political coalition (environmentalism, central to many social and economic issues, is well-suited for this).
Watch this space. Great nations and major political movements seldom die. They might fade, but often they refresh themselves from their historical roots — regenerate, and grow again.
For More Information
For more about the Tea Party Movement see this series by the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights (IREHR):
- The Tea Party in 2013
- By the Numbers: Tea Party Members, Supporters, and Sympathizers
- Following the Money – Financial Support for the National Tea Party Factions
About American politics:
- More about the tottering structure of the American political regime, 17 August 2009
- Please put on every milk carton: America’s political class is MIA, 17 November 2009
- The breakdown of the American political system, pointing to a new and better future, 2 February 2010
About the Left:
- Possible political effects of the pause in global warming, 26 August 2013
- Climate change sinks the Left, while scientists unravel mysteries we must solve, 24 January 2014
- Watch the Left burn away more of its credibility, then wonder why the Right wins, 29 January 2014
- Apocalyptic thinking on the Left about climate change risks burning their credibility, 4 February 2014
- The Left sees “Climate buffoons” and “deniers”. What do they see in the mirror?, 7 March 2014
- This is what defeat looks like for the Left, and perhaps also for environmentalists, 17 March 2014
About the Right:
- The key to modern American politics: the Right-Wing Id Unzipped, 15 February 2012
- A harsh clear look at the history of the Republican Party, 22 September 2013
- Most of what Democrats say is wrong about the Republicans’ recent actions in Congress, 1 October 2013
- What are the odds of violence from the Right in America?, 2 October 2013
- Look in the polls, as in a mirror, to see America drift to the Right, 31 January 2014
- Seeing the world through conservative eyes, 15 February 2014
- A look into the GOP mind: unteathered from reality and drifting in the wind, 3 March 2014
Political Realignment for Dummies