Thanks for sending the NYT article John. I am lucky to have arrived here in India just as the rolling series of local elections took place – and based on the NYT article, it is worth mentioning this to you.
All of India is electrified by the impressive win in the state of Delhi of the AAP, the anti-corruption party. I have been surprised reading the newspapers that what everyone is excited about is that a third party founded on principle could win anything. (Local elections are sometimes won by 3rd parties if they are ethnically/religiously oriented, in the areas where these groups are majorities).
Like the US, the assumption has been that India will never go for a third party, this despite it being a parliamentary system. How this plays out in terms of governing remains to be seen, BUT the AAP won on its stand and promise to fight corruption, attracting both the middle class (which usually supports the liberal Congress Party) and the poor (who tend to support the conservative BJP). Both parties are widely seen as hopelessly corrupt.
Maybe there is a lesson here for a smaller democracy, ours (India has 1.2 billion people, and 750 million registered voters!) As the NYT article showed, people don't see themselves as Centrists, and are divided on so many issues. But we are surely sick of the US style corruption, which is in the popular mind focused on weal financial regulations.
Hope all is well and holiday cheer to you and Margo,
Phi Beta Iota: The NYT article is by Thomas B. Edsall, “The Center Cannot Hold,” and discusses five elements of the US polity that cannot seem to come together: liberals, who make up 19 percent of voters; conservatives, 27 percent; libertarians, 22 percent; populists, 11 percent; and, in the lighter gray center, moderates, at 21 percent. The author's core conclusion is that there is no center capable of holding fast against the fringes. The author does not consider a strategy that restores state rights and focuses on creasting a minimalist federal center with a minimalist non-interventionist and inherent honest national government.