There is no question that retail politics "rule the day", as pointed out in another post. Any proposal or policy is now viewed within the lens of saleability, framing, packaging, branding, etc. There seems little room for a substantive debate in the era of soundbites, any argument that takes more than two sentences to articulate is largely irrelevant. I guess the question becomes, is this new reality a temporary predicament, or is it the new reality of political discourse?
In one sense, you can't argue the fact that retail politics are effective, and the ever growing prominence speaks to the success. That said, as the era of retail politics has expanded, there has also been a concurrent rise in the rate of public cynicism. Voter turnout has consistently eroded, on average, which is a powerful statement on the entire process. Also, there is a growing disconnect between the "beltway" and the hinterlands, with very curious polls, that demonstrate little interest in the daily affairs of government. Successes or blunders, which normally translate into support, have largely been ignored and the status quo defies intuition. In other words, you could make the argument that retail politics have been a failure, in that the branding has actually created more voter apathy.
Could we be at the political crosswords, wherein a return to more philosophical, detailed debate could resonate? Is the public so tired with the manipulations and the sales pitch, that they would welcome another approach? I don't think you can disregard the opportunity for a party to morph into the anti-retail entity. When you consider the massive voter pool that no longer bothers, then the prospects for the apolitical perspective has value. Retail politics may rule the roost, but that doesn't mean that the condition is permanent. In fact, the public is entirely unimpressed, which suggests a vacuum waiting to be filled.