The Business Times

The 'next America' is now

Published Mon, Mar 2, 2015 · 09:50 PM

THE political paralysis in Washington is often ascribed, depending on partisanship, to Republican obstructionism or President Barack Obama's arrogance. But there are deeper causes to the stalemate. Both parties have had a hard time creating agendas that appeal across ideological, racial and ethnic lines. There's been a fragmentation of power and purpose that transcends the defects of political leaders.

A partial explanation comes in a significant report, just issued, that describes the changing nature of the American electorate. It's less white, more minority, older and less dominated by any one generation. These shifts illuminate the larger origins of the political impasse. If democracy is responsive to voters, then voters preoccupied with their own narrow agendas inhibit the creation of durable coalitions capable of legislating.

The report, States of Change: The Demographic Evolution of the American Electorate, 1974-2060, was sponsored by three think tanks of differing politics: the conservative American Enterprise Institute; and the liberal Brookings Institution and the Center for American Progress. The study identifies 10 transforming trends, which - considering the overlap - I've condensed to five. Here they are:

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