Soft centrism is out. Radical pragmatism is in. That is a conclusion I made this morning while reading responses to my post about a brewing "revolution:" a non-violent public upheaval that forces change from within the two-party system or usurps it.
One of two things is likely to happen: The existing parties will dramatically adapt to the times (a demographically challenged GOP has the farthest to go), or voters will demand and get alternatives. An independent presidential bid is increasingly likely. The rise of new parties is not out of the question.
This is, of course, just a theory. My list, "6 Reasons Why the Two-Party System May Become Obsolete," has at least one obvious omission: A leader who is suited to the times. So I asked readers to help me think through the issue, which will be a focus of my reporting and writing leading up to the 2014 and 2016 election.
John Haskell, senior fellow and curriculum chair at the Georgetown University's Government Affairs Institution, said, "I think you're on to something" and then proceeded to inject a healthy dose of skepticism into the notion that a "sensible center" will emerge.
More from his email:
"It is hard to see how a change resembling what you describe could happen, but of course no one I know envisioned the changes in the Eastern bloc at the end of the 1980s. Our domestic situation has got to be more flexible. The emergence of a "sensible center" has been an elusive goal. What I find interesting is this: when elite types (say Bloomberg, Huntsman, or, going back, John Anderson or Paul Tsongas) suggest a moderate, good government agenda, the response is tepid at best. When someone from a different cultural milieu does it the response can be stronger. Ross Perot is the case in point. His message in '92 was essentially the same as, say, Tsongas's was. Needless to say, the response to Perot was better. Seems to me getting Manchin on board is a sign of hope."