I’m a Clinton White House alum who had hoped President Obama could usher in the debate we need. It’s hardly all his fault that we’re not there, but I’m convinced the parties’ interest groups and “thought police” make real progress impossible without a new force that shakes things up. Democrats and Republicans care first and foremost about winning elections, a task that bears no necessary relationship to actually solving our major problems. Having our two-party duopoly control the terms of debate may have sufficed when America was the world’s dominant economy, with little competition. But those days are gone. The challenges we face are serious. People know our current arrangements aren’t up to them.

Anecdotal evidence: Speaking to 400 professionals of all stripes in California the other day, I asked who would be seriously interested in a third major political party. Fiscally conservative, socially liberal. Nearly every hand shot up.

Something’s afoot and it’s not just about the Tea Party. The radical center is ready to rise.