If one party goes far, far left and the other goes nativist-populist, the center-left and center-right would need to join forces and put forth an alternative that fills in a huge ideological gap. They would:
- Refuse to favor one-half of America over the other;
- Advance responsible internationalism;
- Understand the benefits and the downsides of centralized power,
- Take the Constitution seriously;
- Support civil rights and practice civility;
- Defend free markets but also programs that combat poverty and promote upward mobility; and
- Urge we invest in human capital so we can thrive in a globalized economy, not inveigh against modernity.
If neither party is going to support that kind of approach, there likely will be a crisis in governance and a felt need for an alternative. Those who voted for Hillary Clinton and those who voted for Mitt Romney — but saw through the flights of political fancy Sanders and Trump indulged in — will need to find each other, champion these common-sense polices and practice public civility. They might even need to form a new political party.
We need determined champions of moderation, fervent defenders of centrism and an unwavering commitment to decency, kindness and empathy. That’s ultimately the only place from which to govern a complicated, diverse country and to cool tempers and dampen resentments. Eventually, we hope, that’s where this will all wind up.
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