It’s still possible OWS will be co-opted by Democrats or that the Tea Party will be co-opted by the GOP. But here’s why I don’t suspect that’ll be happening anytime soon. There are two reasons, one cultural and one technological. First, we’ve been getting more and more polarized politically since 1992. The disputed 2000 election brought this to a head, freezing our country into the red and the blue (before the colors had always alternated). But with the parties deadlocked at the polls and in Congress, people on both sides of the aisle seem open to broadening the Overton Window of political debate in the US. Whether the folks in the middle agree this is a good idea may be beside the point. It’s happening or seems to be at this moment.
The other factor is technological. Thanks to the internet and social media, the long tail has finally hit Washington DC. The Tea Party started on TV and spread via the web. OWS started on the web and still seems to live there. These people didn’t come from nowhere, they’ve been there it’s just that now they’ve found one another. You could say we’re experiencing the political equivalent of niche marketing.
I’m not sure what a country that is more left and more right looks like. You can’t be free market and anti-capitalist at the same time. In practice I think it just means there are going to be more voices around the table generating more arguments from more perspectives than we’ve had in recent memory.