Two windows

Two presidential candidates from opposite sides provide a window into their respective party’s base. The contrasts couldn’t be starker. For the Republican Party that person is Donald Trump, who, despite or because of his increasingly outrageous statements, continues to rise in the polls, suggesting that he speaks for a growing segment of the conservative wing in America. Bernie Sanders fills this role for the Democrats, who has channeled progressive voices long sublimated by political centrists, most notably the Clintons.

Political pundits suggest that neither Trump nor Sanders will win their party’s nomination, though they may be quite wrong about the former, a candidate who ascends rather than plummets with each outlandish utterance. Sanders’s campaign has indeed elevated commonweal issues to the forefront, forcing Ms. Clinton, I like to think, to shift rhetorically leftward on matters affecting the Rest of Us.

But come next November, there will be just two survivors squaring off. One thing will be most certain: the differences between the two party nominees will be sharply pronounced and who wins the White House will literally change the course of history for no other reason than Supreme Court appointees.

Given the extreme levels of political polarization in this country, perhaps exemplified by the candidacies of Trump and Sanders, the Supreme Court has become the default arbitrator, if not legislator, of national policy.

It is our great misfortune to have been born into a governmental system unique in all the world for its inherent dysfunction and incoherence. We should not be surprised that no other country has adopted our governance model, which, among other deficiencies, bestows so much authority and power to a supreme judiciary.