4. The role of the Internet isn’t clear. Growing up amidst the techno-utopianism of dot-com era Silicon Valley has made me suspicious of all arguments of the form “The Internet -> ??? -> Political revolution!” In this case, it’s not clear to me that the Internet is as disruptive a force as Fournier implies. While it could help challengers organize, it also facilitates the flow of small-donor donations to the major parties and rewards scale in building the computational infrastructure of cutting-edge campaigns.
5. A weak economy makes institutions seem like they’re not working. As the political scientist James Stimson has shown, trust in government and approval of all the major institutions of government tends to track with the state of the economy. It shouldn’t be surprising that people are dissatisfied with the parties, but we should expect that dissatisfaction to dissipate if and when the economy improves. The same thing happened in the 1990s—as the economy improved during President Clinton’s time in office, the Reform Party fizzled.
Again, we don’t know what will happen, but I wouldn’t bet against the parties—and journalists shouldn’t either without more evidence to the contrary.
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