A Shake-Up in American Politics

A Shake-Up in American Politics

Why you should care

Something’s brewing in American politics and, no, it’s not more tea party. 

Pooja Bhatia

Pooja Bhatia

Pooja Bhatia is an OZY editor and writer. She has written for The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and the Economist, and was once the mango-eating champion of Port-au-Prince.

Something’s brewing in American politics, and, no, it’s not more tea party. When the Economist last month depicted President Obama as George W. Bush, we were almost as taken aback by the Photoshop surgery as by the Photoshop surgeon. Was this the same Economist that so fulsomely supported the 2003 Iraq invasion?

Another sign that the old lines are blurring. Libertarianism is one of the line-blurrers, as contributor Nick Fouriezos reported last week in his profile of Georgia’s libertarian in chief, Doug Craig. Libertarian candidates are likely to force runoffs in two Georgia state elections, reflecting a nationwide trend of third-party spoilage. And it’s people like Craig — who want the government out of their bedrooms and their businesses — that are fomenting the tide. Never mind that gay rights used to be a “liberal issue.”

Then there’s Larry Lessig, the Harvard professor and legal reformer. He diagnoses American democracy with a strain of Hong Kong sickness — which is to say, our elections are bought and sold. One little statute could change it, Lessig argues in OZY, but to play politics these days, you’ve gotta pay. That’s why Mr. Campaign Finance Reform has teamed up with Republicans to build a SuperPac that could end all SuperPacs.

The idea that big business and politics are in cahoots goes way back in America, as I wrote over the summer. But now we’re seeing a renaissance of populism, what with Paul Ryan cribbing from Elizabeth Warren’s books, and a growing divide between establishment party wings and everyone else.

We see strains of this reconfiguration in other places, too, like conservatives wooing women, of all people, as Lorena O’Neil reported, and Democrats trying to cut state income tax— with a safety net, according to Emily Cadei. Seems a shake-up is in the works.



Square pegs. Round holes.