But once the debate has raged and the alternatives have been fleshed out, voters want a consensus, a Hegelian synthesis, to move in a new direction. They want to extract the best from each alternative and combine these ingredients in a new solution. This is the process Dick labeled triangulation. To ignore the demand for synthesis and to insist on continuing the debate is to suffer the fate of Dole in 1996 and Kerry in 2004.
This process of polarization, debate, synthesis and action is how America has always moved ahead. Because we are not Japan, we use the debate to see the options. And because we are not Italy or France, we come to conclusions and act upon them, leaving the debate far behind.
Now a great debate has been born. The thesis is Democratic Socialism. The antithesis is free-market capitalism. The Obama Democrats have posed the challenge. It is now up to the Republicans to pick it up and fight along these lines. Compromise is not an option, yet. At some point, the synthesis will set in. But now is the time for clear alternatives and sharp disagreement. Only then can we hope to extract America from the clutches into which it has fallen.