1. Extremes are winning out in both parties. Mehlman describes the center as “politically exhausted,” with vocal extremes in both parties dominating the debate on every significant policy issue. On immigration, the Left calls for the abolition of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, while the Right doesn’t want the children of illegal immigrants to remain in this country. On race relations, the loudest voices on the Left want to defund the police, while President Trump calls for protecting Confederate monuments and military bases named after rebel officers. Progressives warn that the world will end without a Green New Deal, while conservatives remain cavalier to the consequences of climate change.
This mindless tribalism even affects society’s ability to function effectively during a pandemic. Mehlman cites a Goldman Sachs study concluding that a national mask mandate could boost the gross domestic product by $1 trillion, but frets over the partisan divide over such a simple protective measure. He also cites a University of Chicago study that anticipates a 10 percent hit in economic activity if schools and day-care centers remain closed. Trump’s call for schools to reopen—a position originally embraced by the American Academy of Pediatrics—instinctively caused many Democrats to support keeping them closed, lest they find themselves making common cause with the president on anything.