August 5, 2014

Wave or No Wave? How about a New Wave?

At this point most pundits and prognosticators, myself included, see the GOP picking up some modest gains in Congress this summer, and just enough seats in the Senate to take the slimmest of majorities - 51-49. That doesn't seem to constitute a wave election for Republicans and certainly not for conservatives or libertarians.  After 6 years of awful progressive liberal leadership, you might be inclined to be despondent about America.  If her people are just not smart enough in sufficient numbers to see their mistaken ways and really change the course of the nation, then maybe America deserves it's slow choking death of liberty and prosperity.

Here's the problem.  

America needs a two party system even if one of the two parties has gone so far off the rails it can't really be viewed as a party that espouses liberty and justice for all.  The Democrats are one of those two parties.  The other party is also off the rails, just not as far.  But why don't people realize that?  The left is convinced that they just need more - more centralized power, more welfare, more teachers, more free health care, more taxes.  More of everything will solve everything that ails the nation.  Except the government isn't supposed to solve every problem.  But roughly 50% of the populace believe that the role of government, the direction of the country, exactly what the Democrats are pushing, is the right direction.

So wave elections are not currently possible.  The electorate has roughly shaken out to it's current equilibrium.  That means in 2016 the Senate is likely to flip back to Democrat control and in 2018 back to Republican again as the Senate election cycles indicate they should.

No more waves until there's a paradigm shift.  The current situation in Israel is not it.  The Ukrainian crisis is not it.  These are external to the electorate's locus.

The national debt is not it, at least not for now.  The unemployment situation is not it.  The debt ceiling is not it.  These are slowly changing dimensions akin to the boiling frog.

Healthcare is not it. Social Security is not it.  These are entrenched notions on either side of the equation that will not change without some sort of external shock to the system.  Any changes the GOP can hope to make between 2014 and 2016 will likely be marginal at best.  There's not enough support to make the drastic changes necessary to fix the country.  Hence there's no appetite among the GOP establishment to make major changes.  So the GOP will not establish any momentum upon which to create a wave for themselves in the near term.

With no obvious paradigm shift on the political front, or internationally (short of another najor, "successful" terrorist event), there's not much obvious left that could create a paradigm shift and move the U.S. from a relatively rudderless, locked in path.  Our inclination as political junkies is to jump every news story as the possible next big thing.  But predicting it is virtually impossible.  And it is as likely to come from an unexpected source as not.  Perhaps the business world or a new technology or an economic bubble bursting.  Perhaps it might come from a new medical breakthrough or a new social media innovation.  We don't know.  But we do know that some shift will occur at some point.  Even though technology is changing ever more rapidly, and the world moves faster, paradigm shifts are likely to come slower.  Most changes are evolutionary not revolutionary, at least initially.  So while we don't know when the next big change might happen, it's not likely to be soon.

That means no paradigm shift any time soon.  Combined with no real momentum build-up by either political party, that mean no political waves which is unfortunate.  Turning the metaphor on its head, with the American ship taking on water faster and faster, a wave is precisely what is needed right now.

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