It could be that the most appropriate response to the declining relevance of our traditional parties to most people’s concerns isn’t to try to revitalize or supplant them, but simply to let them shrivel ever further into the margins they already appear to be seeking out.
What would be the practical implications of such a development?
We might begin by asking ourselves if we really need parties to narrow fields of candidates for us, if contemporary technologies can enable us to do a better job of this in a more directly participatory manner.
Parties have traditionally also been useful in assembling viable blocs of shared interests to enable important legislation to be passed. But with the rise of single-interest lobbies, how much of this actually occurs today, even within the framework of a traditional party system? Perhaps it would be preferable to cobble together shared-interest blocs on a more ad hoc, issue-by issue basis--substituting the flexibility and quick response typical of an electronic age for the more rigid and static coalitions of the past.
Abandoning a party system is certainly not a task that should be undertaken lightly, without serious consideration of the benefits traditional parties have brought us. But this type of deep reflection will be needed to chart any kind of effective revitalization of the party system as well.
Probably the best course of action is therefore simply to begin more thoroughly re-examining our parties and what we hope to get from them, and let our ultimate course of action be determined by the findings of this process.