With election year a month away, American politics is caught up in tensions, ironies, and a certain amount of sheer madness.
On the one hand: The U.S. economy is a marvel, driven forward by technological innovation, the promises of Big Data and Advanced Manufacturing, a relative independence in energy supply, and a population younger than most other wealthy nations.
On the other hand: Wages have been stagnating since the turn of the millennium, inequalities are widening, college is out of reach for many, suicide rates among white middle-aged working-class people are rising and, in a recent PRRI poll, 72 percent of Americans said "the economy is still in a recession."
On the one hand: Republicans have lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections and have, at best, a very narrow path to an Electoral College majority next year. The rising groups in the American electorate -- Latinos, Asian-Americans and young people -- are hostile to the party, a problem its presidential front-runner is making worse with his unapologetic xenophobia.