It dawned on me a few weeks ago that this is no ordinary election. Yes, I know, we hear all the time that “this is the most important election of our lifetime.” Yet this year I think the stakes are higher, not only for the nations but for the parties. That is because I think the party that loses this election ceases to exist in its current form.
Take the Republicans—and no, I don’t think Trump will lose, nor do I think the Grand Old Party Elites (GOPe) will lose the senate and is within a handful of seats right now of retaking the House. But . . .
Should Trump lose, the elite, blue-haired, GOPe party of Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney will shrivel faster than a grape in the Arizona sun. This is now the party of Trump, the party of MAGA. It is a new coalition—that all the GOPe in 2012 said they wanted, Hispanics, blacks, working people, and for which now they sneer at. This new coalition stands on its head the entire accepted wisdom of the past 20 years, namely that the Democrats were the party of industrial and manufacturing workers; that the Democrats were the party of blacks and Hispanics because they are “minorities”; and that Democrats were the party of the common man.
Democrats haven’t been the party of the common man since FDR. Today, they are an extreme party with two even more insidious extremes—very wealthy uber-rich, and government-subsidized poor. There may be a tiny middle sliver of suburban abortion-oriented females, but it is far, far smaller than most think.
So MAGA has taken over the great middle, appealing to people at all economic levels who want tradition, stability, and jobs; who believe in hard work and peace without foreign involvements; and most of all who believe that America itself can be made great again. This irritates the GOPe and the Romney wing of the party to no end. Their understanding of bringing blacks and Hispanics into the party was as welfare recipients of Republican goodies and as illegals who would be fodder for the Chamber of Commerce and its $2 an hour jobs. Surprise, surprise, surprise.
If the Democrats win, and Trump loses, the GOPe would fracture into a MAGA Party and a 21st century of the Know-Nothings—the latter, a group of ignorant, never-Trump, smarmy, puffer-fish pols who never did a day’s work in their lives. And make no mistake, it would be the end. The vast majority of MAGA will forever be done with any old-style GOPe Bush-type party. And I think, for the future, that also dooms any presidential hopes of GOPe-beloved stars such as Nikki Haley.
But, as I say, I don’t think that will happen. I strongly think Trump will have a resounding victory that will vanquish for a time the GOPe and permanently disable and fracture the Democrats.
So, what of the Democrats when Trump wins? They are in deep, deep trouble. Since Obama, they have drifted further and further left. In this, I think Obama is widely misunderstood by both the Left and Right. Conservatives saw him as a far-leftist who was blocked by the GOP House and Senate; Leftists think he was a “corporatist” who merely continued the policies of Bill Clinton and the mega-donors.
In fact, Obama was and is a true believer, an anti-imperialist quasi-Marxist. But he failed not due to the supreme efforts of the GOP (although Mitch McConnell did a Horatio at the Bridge with judicial nominees) but rather because of his own laziness and lack of focus. In two years, with a super-majority in both houses, all he got was a “stimulus bill” and Obamacare? Try giving a loyal Trump House and a reasonable GOP Senate to Trump for two more years and see what he does with it. The fact is Obama was lazy. And Marxism is hard—it requires a daily crushing of your opponent, a perpetual suppression of your enemy, and a ruthlessness that even Obama lacked.
Now, with a Trump victory—especially after his latest Supreme Court Justice is confirmed—the last vestiges of constraints will be gone. That’s for another discussion. As far as the Democrats go, once again having been guaranteed a victory by the polls and pundits, the party will shatter like a Faberge Egg. I look for it to break into two parts, one larger and dominant, the other fatally weakened and headed for the ash heap of history.
The first of these parties to come out of the Trump firebombing will be a new Socialist Party of America. They will jettison all pretenses that they are either moderate or democratic. This will be Lenin’s party, Mao’s party, Pol Pot’s party. They will be as cutthroat and vile to their own internal dissenters as to conservatives. That, after all, is how Lenin rolled.
A new Socialist Party will be led by the likes of the Squad, with DinoBernie as a titular (but ultimately irrelevant) head. Obviously, the new Socialist Party will be for full wealth redistribution, oppressive taxes, gun confiscation, and virtually every other Republican’s worst nightmare. But here is why it is doomed to fail.
The United States is a single-member district/winner take all electoral system. There is only one representative from each district. Homie don’t do proportional votes. Any party in American history since 1826 must hew to the middle to have a hope of winning an election. There is a reason for this. After Andrew Jackson lost the presidency in the so-called “Corrupt Bargain” of 1824, his protégé Martin Van Buren created an entirely new political party structure designed to eliminate slavery as the basis for party division. He, like Thomas Jefferson and, later, Abraham Lincoln, saw slavery as destroying the fabric of the Union and leading to war.
Van Buren’s new party structure sought to avoid this by creating a system that relied on bribes called the “spoils system” or “patronage.” His idea was that people were not driven by ideology or principles, but by money and that anyone could be bought. Thus the harder you worked for the party, and the more you got Jacksonian's elected, the higher your reward in the party in the form of either state or local party jobs or, as you moved up in your activities, state or national party jobs.
Although the system has grown and transformed some, Van Buren’s essential structure of payoffs to the party faithful still remains the energizing factor in the parties to this day. No party can succeed without providing a reasonable opportunity in the near future for its members to hold an office (elected or appointed), to wield power, and to capture some of the “spoils.”
Now, combine that with the winner-take-all/single-member district system and you can see why third parties consistently and predictably fail in American politics. If you aren’t in range of “winning the championship” year after year, and if your supporters never are rewarded with jobs, they inevitably drift into one of the two established parties.
And that’s why the Socialist and the long-standing Libertarian Parties are doomed to electoral failure no matter how good—or bad—their ideas are. Neither can ever—ever—hope to be in a position to give away jobs to the faithful. The Socialists want to burn down the entire system, including the network of patronage and replace it with a Marxist government version of a “workers’ commune” with the party nomenklatura at the top, but everyone else groveling. The Libertarians don’t believe in any kind of large government activities at all. They would deconstruct things for entirely different reasons, but with exactly the same result.
When Trump wins, the emerging Socialist Party will find that it has a great deal structurally in common with a group that absolutely hates it, the Libertarians. Neither will note the irony that they are both condemned to permanent failure because they never read American history.
Larry Schweikart is the co-author with Michael Allen of the New York Times #1 bestseller, A Patriot’s History of the United States, author of Reagan: The American President, and the founder of the Wild World of History curriculum website for homeschoolers and educators featuring full US and World History courses for grades 9-12 including teacher guides, student workbooks, tests, images/maps/graphs, and video lessons for every unit (www.wildworldofhistory.com).