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Over the last decade or so the consumer market has been driven by one word, “segmentation.” Twenty kinds of toilet paper instead of three. Coffees galore. John Meyer Caribbean cruises. The drill down to a nichier niche has continues unabated. And, by and large, this has been a good thing. By and large, choice has always been a good thing, even if there are those who (legitimately) make the case for consumer vertigo. So then why has the political marketplace not only not become more segmented, but indeed become awesomely less niche friendly? There’s a reason and in true dismal science form it’s depressing.

For many years the political marketplace consisted of two products, the Democrats and the Republicans. Today however, aside from some poorly “distributed” niche products such as the Libertarians or the Greens, there exists the moderate Republicans and the fiscally-responsible Democrats, which are essentially the same thing. This is because the political consumer (you and me) has created what we believe to be a niche segment that serves just our singular needs (e.g., my fiscally responsible but socially liberal policy) without wasting my currency (i.e., my vote). The problem is that unlike toilet paper, each individual consumer (voter) does not go home with his or her own individual product.

By trying to vote for a niche political product we have actually eliminated the number of available political products by making them all the same.