And never the twain shall meet.
Yes, the parties periodically shift focus and morph. Yes, there are smaller political movements with which a minority identify (Green, Tea, indie, progressive).
But for the most part bipartisan politics appears to be our reified and painfully narrow options.
Perhaps these are two ways of thinking about or viewing the world, basic philosophical commitments we make--or hold--that then enter into dialogue and conversation one with another, kind of like points on a sliding scale.
But still points on a scale. Like this:
However, I have become increasingly suspicious that this is not the way it work. That in fact, the two "parties" now reside in different parallel universes. It is as if we are seeing the same thing, but from completely different and incommensurable perspectives.
And because we don't simply differ in our opinions, but actually reside in different universes, the conversation we hope for between the two sides is now no impossible. There is no possible fusion-of-horizons (horizontverschmelzung), because you can't fuse parallel universes. They are by definition different universes.
If this is the case, and I think it is the case, our task is now how to survive in a meta-political science fictional universe.
Consider one simple example. The Democrat solution to many of our current economic concerns is the exact opposite of the Republican (Keynes vs. Draco), and both sides are convinced the alternative side's proposal will destroy us economically (and may, additionally, be immoral). We hear someone from the other side describe the current intractability, and we think to ourselves, "What universe does this person live in?"
I don't have a solution. But it does help me in various conversations to realize that when I get into a talk with someone from the "other side," it might actually be that we are not simply lining out our position on a sliding spectrum of political options, but we are in fact trying to scream across universes to each other. Just so each of our conversations is grounded in a completely different epistemological, phenomenological, and perhaps even ontological, situation, one from the other.
This makes me sad. I lament it. But I think it is true. And I wonder if there is anything to be done about it, anything at all.
Lord, help us.
p.s. The novel that best develops this thematic, a novel I wish everyone would read, is China Miéville's The City and the City.