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With both parties in crisis, turmoil is the new normal

Eugene Robinson on

I believe the reason both parties are struggling is that a broad political realignment of some kind is under way.

We all have a mental image of the political spectrum. On the right, there is the Republican Party with a set of conservative policies -- cut taxes, shrink government, limit entitlements, deregulate, etc. On the left, there is the Democratic Party with a set of liberal policies -- expand health care, raise wages, regulate Wall Street, promote fairness, and so on.

The rise of Trump and Sanders and the fact that some of their campaign positions were identical -- we should have health care for all, free-trade pacts have harmed U.S. workers, the "system" is rigged to favor the rich and powerful at the expense of the middle class -- suggest to me that the familiar left-right spectrum is no longer an accurate schematic of public opinion.

Today's key fault lines may be between metropolitan areas and the exurbs and small towns strung along the interstates; between those who have gone to college and those who have not; between families who have benefited from the globalized economy and those who have not; and between an anxious, shrinking white majority and the minority groups that within a couple of decades will constitute more than half the population.

My advice to Democrats is to say the word "opportunity" so often that it becomes the party's trademark, then frame progressive policies in that context. My advice to Republicans, who are stuck with Trump, is to pray.

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Eugene Robinson's email address is eugenerobinson@washpost.com.

(c) 2017, Washington Post Writers Group


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