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For decades, U.S. strategists were thinking short-term. Its leaders should start taking an infinite perspective.
Argument: The Republican and Democratic Parties Are Heading for Collapse The Republican and Democratic Parties Are ...
In a year that has already seen impeachment, plague, and fire, and with total warfare battle over filling Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Supreme Court seat and an even higher-stakes and equally uncertain election still to come, it’s easy to feel as if U.S. democracy is crumbling before our eyes.
Yet here’s some potentially good news in a year without much of it: The United States has been through moments of political and economic crisis before, and out of each crisis emerged a much-needed transformation of the country’s politics and economy. There’s reason to expect the 2020s to be a decade of major political evolution, as well. And none too soon: The United States is overdue for both an overhaul of its party system and a major renewal of its ever evolving democracy.
Broadly speaking, U.S. politics has had six party systems—that is, distinct eras in which party competition was somewhat stable, both in the relative balance of power between the parties and in the types of issues that the parties fought over, such as the role of government in the economy. These eras roughly covered 1796-1820, 1832-1856, 1868-1892, 1896-1928, 1932-1968, and 1980 until now. The transitions between each system were generally led from the top down, through rifts and realignments in elite coalitions and ideologies, typically catalyzed by societal crises. The first five party systems lasted, by this count, 24, 24, 24, 32, and 36 years—a certain regularity, with the length expanding as people lived longer. By this pattern, the current party system should probably be collapsing about now.
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