I’m not all that optimistic. I’m a little pessimistic about the state of our politics. But I think the real story of American politics at the moment is the polarization. And I see this happening at the elite level; it’s happening at the public level… . We’re not going to change those institutions. We’re not going to get the money out of politics. We’re not going to get partisan redistricting out of the way. But somewhere along the lines parties have to recognize that to govern in this system they will have to move to the center. And the incentive to do that is to lose. So I think that if the Republicans lose again in 2016, they are going to have to move back to the center — and that will move the political system back on the track that it should be.

From Thomas E. Patterson’s address on “The Elections of 2012: Reflections & Prospects” during the Campbell University Department of History, Criminal Justice and Political Science’s Barden Forum Lecture Series on Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013. Patterson is the Bradlee Professor of Government and the Press at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

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