The old laws of politics have been losing their relevance as attitudes and technology evolve, creating a kind of endemic instability that probably is not going away just because housing prices rebound. Nor is that instability any longer driven only by ideological mini-movements like MoveOn.org or the tea parties, as some commentators suggest. Voter insurrection has gone as mainstream as Miley Cyrus, and to the extent that the parties in Washington take comfort in the false notion that all this chaos is fleeting, they will fail to internalize the more enduring lessons of Tuesday’s elections.

The first is that this age-old idea of “clearing the field” for a preferred candidate, so as to avoid divisive primaries, is now, much like the old party clubhouse, a historical relic. This should have been clear to everyone after 2008, when Barack Obama, shunned by most of his party’s major contributors and its Washington establishment, simply shrugged off endorsements and raised more than half a billion dollars from his own constituencies…

A second, related lesson is that less affinity for parties makes incumbent politicians less safe, generally. That’s because when fewer people bother to engage in party politics, it takes a smaller group of ultra-motivated activists to overturn the traditional order of things…

A final truism to emerge from Tuesday’s primaries is that the politics of issues, the stuff of which parties have most often crafted their core identities, has now been largely displaced by a politics of personal conviction. In other words, Tuesday’s results were less about the ideological purging of either party than they were about a rejection of the culture of both, a sense that Washington acts from expedience and little else.