Markets & Economy

Political potholes will make the road back to economic progress a rocky one

Next president must understand and appeal to the center

A holiday week, thin for new economic reports, markets quiet. One subject rises in importance above all: politics! We are in a political transition unprecedented in our national history. From the Civil War until recently our two political parties were ideologically mixed. Republicans were the "Party of Lincoln," electing African-American nominees and economic progressives side by side with the conservative and propertied WASP elite. Democrats were ethnic and religious immigrants, blue-collar pro-union, welded to Dixiecrats by their hatred of Lincoln and the "Radical Republicans," liberals side by side with Bible Belt conservatives. Nixon's "southern strategy" in the 1960s began to change the mix, but it took a long time. When completed only a dozen years ago, the lines were drawn: Democrats Left, Republicans Right. As a nation, we are not at all accustomed to the change. The first peculiar result: the rise and fizzle of the "religious right," and then the Tea Party -- ex...

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