One of the oddities of this election cycle has been that no one seems happy. Not conservatives, not liberals, not the mainstream, not the fringe — nobody. This week’s featured post “Why so frustrated, America?” will look at this anomalous situation and offer this frame for it: Divided government plus extreme polarization means that both parties want their own kind of change, and neither can achieve it. As a result, on a long list of issues the country is stuck with a status quo that no one likes or is willing to defend.
Immigration is a paradigm of this dysfunction: You may want to give them papers or you may want to throw them out, but literally no one — well, except for sweatshop owners and document forgers — thinks it’s a good idea for 11 million people to live here indefinitely with no legal status. Yet that situation continues with no end in sight. Neither Trump’s deportation force nor Clinton’s path to citizenship are likely to pass Congress anytime soon, so we all cheer for our candidates without really believing their plans will come to fruition.
If you look around, you can see that pattern everywhere: What we’re currently doing is obviously wrong, but neither party has enough power to change it alone, and they’re not capable of working together. So we lurch from one government-shutdown deadline to the next, leave the Supreme Court in a 4-4 deadlock, and watch the bankruptcy clock on Medicare keep ticking.
All that raises obvious questions: How did the American Republic survive this long? What’s different about this era? Can we do anything about it?
I don’t promise a complete answer, but I’ll at least try to frame the questions better. That post should be out between 10 and 11 EDT.
In the weekly summary, I’ll thank God that the debates are finally over, and endorse Ezra Klein’s analysis of Clinton’s winning strategy. Friday’s internet outage looks more like a harbinger of things to come than a temporary annoyance. The Mosul offensive is on. The debates yielded some funny videos. And we’ll close with a look at the most beautiful bookstores in the world.