The Three Best Things That Happened in American Politics in 2022

James Surowiecki
6 min readJan 1
Blake Masters, one of the many MAGA candidates who lost in 2022

Much of the year in politics in 2022 was occupied, in one way or another, by Donald Trump, despite the fact that it’s now almost two years since he left office. There were the January 6 hearings, the convictions of numerous January 6 participants and conspirators, the revelation that Trump had kept numerous classified documents in his possession after leaving office, his announcement that he will be running for president, and, most recently, the release of his tax returns. For all that, though, there was a sense by year’s end that Trump’s act was beginning to feel a little tired. And even as his various shenanigans, past and present, continued to command headlines, there were some very good things that happened in American politics, too. So here’s a list of the three most welcome political developments in 2022.

1. The Revenge of the Median Voter For at least the last six years, American politics has seemed hyper-polarized along conventional partisan lines, and the often-correct assumption of both pundits and politicians has been that straight party-line voters are now the rule rather than the exception. So if the traditional advice for politicians is that they should try to appeal to the proverbial median voter, the counsel of many in both parties today is that what parties need to do is focus on turning out their own voters, since there’s no real prospect of getting voters on the other side of the aisle (or even independents who lean in the other direction) to flip. That approach, of course, encourages parties to play to their base by using more extreme rhetoric and adopting positions that, while they may not appeal to the median voter, do appeal to party diehards.

Now, the theory that swing voters don’t really matter — or at least that there’s no point in trying to appeal to them — was hard to square with electoral results over the past six years, which saw swing voters in a host of purple states and districts flip between Republicans and Democrats, and in doing so swing the balance of power in Washington quite dramatically. This theory was also adopted far more strongly by Republicans than by Democrats, which explains why Democratic candidates in swing states and districts have in recent years tended to be more moderate — in tone, if not always in policy — than Republican ones. But it…

James Surowiecki

I’m the author of The Wisdom of Crowds. I’ve been a business columnist for Slate and The New Yorker and written for a wide range of other publications.