"A Corrosive Loss of Confidence"

Ron Brownstein’s latest suggests that a political crisis is on the horizon, spurred by the disaffection of White voters and possibly leading to revolutionary stirrings and a movement toward a third party (“A Corrosive Loss of Confidence“).

Even as voters prepare to send more Republicans to Washington, polls show that Americans are not enthusiastic about the GOP. Indeed, the arc of disillusionment spreads beyond the two parties to virtually every major American institution. If November’s election allowed Americans the opportunity to fire not only members of Congress, but also the nation’s entire public and private leadership class, they might take it. This deep, broad, and visceral discontent is a recipe for social and political volatility.

Whites are more alienated from both major parties than non-Whites. Brownstein proposes that this is solely due to the economic downturn. I suspect that White disaffection also involves racial anxiety about the non-White future. Non-Whites doubtless feel optimistic about the long term future in a White-minority America, even if their present circumstances are difficult.

There is an apocalyptic tone to Brownstein’s essay—a belief that our new elite is out of touch with the great majority of Americans, that revolution may be just around the corner, and that third parties may be swept into power:

If polls existed just before the French Revolution, they might have returned results such as these. They point toward a widely shared conviction that the country’s public and private leadership is protecting its own interest at the expense of average (and even comfortable) Americans.

Because he sees the economic downturn as central, Brownstein sees a successful third party as headed by “a non-politician with a problem-solver pedigree” who is seen as able to turn the economy around.

He may be right, but the American Third Position believes that a prime mover of White disaffection is racial anxiety—amplified by the recession and by the perception that elites are completely out of touch with the interests and attitudes of the great majority of Americans. Good examples of the latter are recent court rulings that nullify popular sentiment on issues like the Arizona immigration law and California’s ban on same-sex marriage. Indeed, today’s op-ed page in the  LA Times shows the divide: The pro-homosexual marriage piece piously defending the courts and the anti-homosexual marriage piece emphasizing the undemocratic nature of the ruling: The “people’s will” was violated.

There is a feeling of powerlessness–that even strong majorities don’t matter any more. And that is indeed what revolutions are made of.

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