The American democracy works like a mechanical pendulum. There is an analogy where the load is supposed to represent the democracy in unstable balance around an equilibrium point. There are swings from left to right and right to left in between two limits. The whole idea is that the democracy is the perfect only for a fraction of time when the pendulum has the maximum speed. With other words the democracy is hard to achieve and hard to keep. Very important are the external adjustments made to keep the democratic pendulum close to center where the perfect democracy is according to this mechanic model. The range of variation to the left or right is the most important parameter. Free media should expose the extremist groups, left or right, and the population has to vote for adjustments.
This is an example for the last nineteen years.
In March 1991 the president George Bush was a victor in his Iraq coalition campaign. The Republican Party came to presidential election in 1992 to confront Ross Perot and the democrat candidate Bill Clinton. The Republican Party lost to Bill Clinton a charismatic character. From gays in the military and talk of socialist programs to balance the budget, it was a long way for him to learn what the USA President can do. In 1994 and 1995 the democracy's pendulum worked for Republicans' majority in Congress who came with the Contract for America.
Bill Clinton added to his agenda the issues from Republican list and won the 1996 presidential election. The second term was a continuation of work towards solutions to balance the budget, downsize the government, tax reform, save the social security programs, deal with TV violence and education, and create affordable health care benefits, more racial integration and all old and new issues that every day life may reveal.
In the USA the democratic pendulum - after Clinton terms left - hit the very right with George W. Bush president and Dick Cheney vice-president. The Patriotic Act is an example of central power consolidation and erosion of freedom done in the name of peoples' protection against terrorism. In economy it was the laissez-faire capitalism at work until the real estate bubble burst and the real economic crisis started in October 2008.
The republicans lost credibility and the democrats won big with Barack Hussein Obama presidential candidate. There is a lot of conversation about how much state capitalism will be acceptable for the USA before will get the straight socialism at the very left. I hope the adjustments will continue through a democratic process.
For word definitions and more ideas read my articles "The Third Way" about Centrism.