More and more of us are coming to the conclusion that there is only one party, and there are left and right wings of that party. This is especially true for GOPe types and Democrats. Tea Party types can be different, but there is no guarantee, (Marco Rubio).
If you take it that both parties are the same, then a protest vote becomes more of an option. Why not vote 3rd party? If your choice is GOPe or Democrat, you have no choice at all.
What appears to be happening is that after many years of relative party stability, the fault lines are now shifting. Angelo Codevilla began writing
about this several years ago, concluding that the true political and cultural division between Americans is between a (largely East Coast-based) "new aristocracy" - the Ruling Class - that includes permanent politicians, bureaucrats, academics, and news media members, and a far broader Country Class.
I think the battles currently being waged tend to validate his observations.
At the present time, radical "Progressives" - really: socialists - dominate the Democrat Party (as opposed to the more traditional liberal anti-authoritarians who used to define them - like my parents - both Democrats; later Republicans), and they treat conservatives to a steady stream of hatred and abuse.
For their part, the news media are endlessly desirous of access to power, and that exacerbates the difficulty in effective communication between people of honest belief, and differing opinions.
Obama has made it worse. Far worse. He's a divider unlike anything I've ever seen, and I've been around for over 55 years. And he does it intentionally. It comes naturally to him, first, because he's a reflexive authoritarian, and second, because he is among the most unreflective people we have ever elected as President. He never challenges his beliefs. But in order to grow and develop as people, we all need to.
I think that the "middle ground" we are looking for is actually not in the "middle" but rather, in support of freedom - among the Libertarian Right and Left.
There are people on the libertarian Left that I have come to admire for their intellectual consistency, thoughtfulness and respect for human freedom: Christoper Hitchens, Nat Hentoff, Penn Jillette, and Pat Caddell, just to name a few who come immediately to mind.
The Left went off the rails when it came to embrace the State as the prime agent of change and human advancement rather than the individual. The State is the primary obstacle to, and not the source of freedom. Our Founders knew this implicitly, informed as they were by the work of Edmund Burke and John Locke.
James Madison and Alexander Hamilton both believed in a more far-reaching Federal power than did, say, Thomas Jefferson or John Adams. But they did not trust government so much as to accept the kind of centralized authority that we now, eight or nine generations on, take for granted.
The national discussions we are presently having and the discussions we ought
to be having are in my mind, very different things. And they will have very different ends, should we dare. But first: we need to speak to each other, honorably and without rancor. If that is still possible.
Third parties have not fared well historically in America, but when they have succeeded, the result has been either the demise of an existing party (e.g. - the Whigs) or an eventual absorption of the world view of the new upstart party (e.g. - the Progressive "Bull Moose" party of T.R.) into the others. We'll see what happens with the Tea Party, which today is not a political party so much as a burgeoning Revolt of the Masses.