Collaborative Big Think


In recent days I’ve been trying to get my head around what I guess everyone else is trying to get their head around. The catch phrase is the ‘anti-incumbent mood’ in the country. But I’ve been wrestling with it because I’ve always thought that that’s sort of pundit-speak that tells us very little or at least too little to give us any real insight into what’s happening in our politics. It’s still an open question what’s going to happen in Arkansas tomorrow. But it seems like a foregone conclusion that Mitch McConnell’s handpicked protege is going to get crushed by Ron Paul’s son Rand. And in Pennsylvania, all the signs seem to be pointing Sestak beating 30 year incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter (D).We know this is looking like a strong year for the right (though polls suggest perhaps a bit less over the last month or so) and yes, the ‘anti-incumbent mood.’ But my sense is that there’s something deeper and more structural at work in the body politic that accounts for all of this. Perhaps part of it is the disruptive effect of new organizing and communication technologies? Or perhaps there’s some more thorough-going ideological disruption afoot that we cannot yet see clearly but will be apparent in retrospect a few years out? Maybe it’s just a collective but inchoate response to the still terrible economy?

I’m used to throwing questions out for readers when the questions are more narrowly factual or deal with our individual impressions. But I’d like some help thinking this one through. What’s your theory? Am I just over-thinking this one? Or do you have a similar sense that we’re all blind men touching different parts of the elephant at this point with only a very limited grasp of what’s happening?

Let me know. I’ll be posting replies.


Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of