Hmmm, This Sounds Like Something I Would Agree With

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

From Thomas Friedman in the NYT, emphasis added:

… what will be required to produce resilient citizens and communities [is] forcing a politics that is much more of a hybrid of left and right.

It is the kind of politics you already see practiced in successful communities and towns in America — places like Minneapolis; Austin, Tex.; Louisville, Ky.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; and Portland, Ore. — where coalitions made up of the business community, educators and local government come together to forge hybrid solutions to improve their competitiveness and resilience. We can’t get there at the national level since one of our two major parties has gone nuts and we have designed paralysis into our politics.

Sounds right to me! This is very much in sync with what my wife Deb and I have seen across the country, and have tried to explain here.

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Previously in the Hmmm series:

  • We’ve seen things that fit Warren Buffett’s world view: America is in way better overall economic shape than the rest of the world, and also has better prospects than political rhetoric suggests. But it needs to do more to help those being hurt and left behind by today’s technological transformations.
  • We’ve internalized the Robert Wood Johnson / NPR / Harvard study: Americans think the nation’s health care system as a whole is a disaster, but are surprisingly satisfied with the care they get themselves.
  • Like the Kauffman Foundation (as noted here) and now Bo Cutter of the Roosevelt Institute (co-author of a new e-book called The Good Economy), we’ve seen signs of widespread startup, “maker,” and entrepreneurial activity around the country.
  • We what’ve seen place-by-place parallels the NYT’s observation that while politicians are angrier than ever, many voters (even while casting votes for the likes of Trump) take the longer, calmer view.
  • And now we’re nodding along with T. Friedman in his observation that local-level governance continues to function—partly because people there don’t have the luxury of becoming purely “shut it down!” obstructionist like the national-level GOP.

This compilation is just to note harmonic resonance among observations that don’t fit the “everything is getting worse” tone of national political discussions. The country has lots of problems, and lots of people figuring out solutions.