Bai on "The New Rules"

Yesterday I offered some thoughts on the volatility we are seeing in American politics today.  The New York Times's Matt Bai, writing from his new perch in the main paper, offers this take:

But to suggest that this week’s primaries are just part of the latest revolt against incumbency, brought on by pervasive economic angst, is to miss some deeper trends in the electorate that are more consequential — trends that have brought us to an unprecedented disconnect between, on one side, the traditional shapers of our politics in Washington and, on the other, the voters who actually make the choices.

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 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.

As someone who has been making the case that a "new politics" is emerging in America, driven by vast changes in demography, media/technology and the global economic and geopolitical landscape, I have great sympathy with Matt's thoughtful take.  But at the same time, those who discount the large structural economic changes at work now (driven to some degree by these same changes in media and technology Bai describes), and how they are leaving way too many Americans behind, miss what may be indeed the most consequential set of societal changes underway in America today.  

We are in no ordinary economic times.  We are leaving one economy, a 20th century economy, with a certain set of rules, global players, skills and knowledge required for success, and entering a new and very different 21st century economy.  This new economy is more globally competitive, technology-dense, universally-wired together and in need of transition to a low-carbon foundation.  So far America has not done a particularly good job in transitioning to this new economy of the 21st century, as we are both leaving too many in our current workforce behind, and critically, not making the needed investments in our infrastructure and the knowledge and skills of our future workforce to ensure our future success.

I agree with much of Matt writes this morning, but challenge him to look a little deeper at what may be the most consequential societal changes afoot today - the birth of a new and much more challenging 21st century economy.   This economy is one which America still has not come to adequately come to understand, and is certainly far away from having a compelling national strategy to transition our 20th century economy and strategies into the 21st.