A New American Chorus

by Paul Talbot on November 2, 2013

Obvious perils accompany those moments of clarity, those rare times when we suddenly believe that the future has shed all of its annoying uncertainties.  These are the perils of hubris and of flat out being wrong.


And yet I cannot help but feel that the events of the past week, driven by the train wreck of health care reform implementation, have clearly returned the White House to the Republicans.  The outcome of the 2016 election is fait accomplit.  Next year’s midterms will clearly be savage.

I see it all clearly because like so many, I sense America’s collective disgust.  The extent to which my own disappointment fuels this is, of course, difficult to measure, but it seems that the stillborn disaster of health care reform has more or less permanently put President Obama on the outs with the American people.

It’s as if you walked down the street this past week and saw it in every American eye, this sense that it’s over.

Hillary Clinton will not run.  She now knows that she cannot win.

Chris Christie will run and win.  It doesn’t matter how many toxins Ted Cruz and Rand Paul pump into the Republican primaries.  And it doesn’t matter the extent to which Chrisitie panders to the radical right.

These events of the next few years are quite clear to me this morning.  But there is something else percolating, something inevitable that is not so clear.

We seem to be accelerating our march toward the end of this two party system fueled by shadowy money, polling, and TV ads.  It strikes me that in some fashion our collective engagement with fresh digital worlds will dismantle this self-serving structure.  Lobbyists, gerrymandering, money, none of it will be able to slow down a pent up thirst for fundamental change.  Call this thirst populist and you tarnish the breadth of its underpinnings.  But it is a thirst our existing structure clearly cannot quench.

What looms ahead is probably change we cannot quite grasp.  And it is probably not change we can believe in.

This change will be unsettling and disruptive.

Just as brokered political conventions had their day in the sun, and just as the roles and relevance of primaries and televised debates have been shifting, today’s sad structural inability of politicians to serve the people will be replaced with something new, something digital, something that connects us.

This may emerge as something dangerous and demagogic, or something that unpackages the promise of a functional democracy.

So we look ahead, and as best we can we seek out a way to turn a collection of disparate, disappointed, and disenfranchised voices into a New American chorus.

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