In David Brooks' latest column, he harps on a topic that seems to be increasingly in vogue as the election approaches - the political polarization of the country. After noting both that polarization rises with higher education, which together with the "information age" is leading to "political ghettos" being created, in the red and blue states. To fix this problem, he has an interesting solution - a national service program.

If you had a big but voluntary service program of the sort that Evan Bayh, a Democrat, and John McCain, a Republican, proposed a couple of years ago, millions of young people would find themselves living with different sorts of Americans and spending time in parts of the country they might otherwise know nothing about.

While a national service program is admirable, I do not think it will do much to ameliorate radicalization along party lines. Millions of young people already live with different people and spend time in another part of the country than they grew up with. It's called college, and according to Brooks, it only aggravates party loyalties. There is also the question of how much effect a voluntary program would have, assuming the majority of young people choose not to participate.

To give Brooks some credit, I do think his final suggestion of changing the primary system would be interesting. I suspect that fringe issues would eventually coalesce behind two candidates representing dual coalitions, though. This system of defacto parties would be no different that the current political system, other than the possibility of moderates who attempt to appeal members of both coalitions succeeding and winning the election. Of course, this already happens, as evidenced by landslide elections, most recently by Reagan and Clinton.