Two Parties Are Key To Trump’s Strength
Candidates like Donald Trump become possible when the two parties in our country cobble ideologies together into broad coalitions forced to live together. The result of these disparate movements being forced into one of two vehicles is incentivizing candidates to hold wildly inconsistent positions and to craft incoherent messages that appeal to all their base voters.
Only Two Parties To Choose From
Trump comes to dominate a cycle without a single consistent governing principle and messaging catering to the furious. Those voters are angry because their interests represent a small portion of a giant coalition where other interests tend to have more resources and organization. When it’s said that the GOP leadership is responsible for Trump’s rise,it means they ignored a portion of their coalition for too long, and this is certainly the case.
When the two parties have coalitions so broad that its leaders and rank-and-file cannot satisfy every nominal interest group claiming membership because those interests are diametrically opposed, the Republic reaches a critical breaking point. Both parties have reached this point to some degree, and this election cycle is the natural result with angry voting blocs in both parties revolting in the primaries.
The problem will only get worse as long as disparate groups are cobbled together into two parties. Certain coalitions are not feasible and we are seeing those constituent parts break apart and form into new coalitions that essentially align based on their views of single divisive figures, namely Donald Trump (and Bernie Sanders to a lesser degree, but he’s not a misogynist, bigoted, racist). The real issue is the dominance of American electoral politics by two private organizations.
Trump is merely a symptom of our disease in insisting that his brand of nationalism belongs alongside any legitimate political philosophy that should be wielding power in our country. He has every right to run for President, but he has no right to do so espousing beliefs at odds with the banner of the party he represents. This is the problem when you play footsie with bigotry and racism. It’s tough to disentangle yourself from it.
Trump is co-opting a Republican party heretofore committed to representing Goldwater’s libertarian-conservatism (the same Goldwater that Hillary supported as a teenager who was a founding member of the NAACP in Arizona and a leader in the fight to desegregate the army), Reagan’s Christian-Conservatism (who appointed the first female justice), Kemp’s compassionate-conservatism (a self-described “bleeding-heart conservative” who preached the gospel of upward mobility, economic opportunity, cultural diversity and racial justice), corporatism (embodied by the Chamber of Commerce advocating for immigration and trade), and the globalism of George W Bush’s widely repudiated neo-conservatism. The leader of the Republican Party didn’t always want to ban Muslims.
Even before Trump began his capture of the GOP, the party struggled to balance those competing interests when drafting its platform.
Now, while those stakeholders still make up the substantial majority of the party’s base, they are being subsumed into a new creation centering on Trump that is anti-free-market, pro-caudillo and authoritarian. This unhappy occurrence unfolded because the alienated white supremacists and white nationalists unified around a single man and established a new plurality out of voter blocs normally nudged to the fringe in favor of the historical party base.
The need for more representative parties aligned to a coherent belief system has never been clearer. If by some miracle the GOP survives this transition, its identity will have been utterly transformed and the basis of its coalition fatally undermined. Working towards a more representative multilateral party system that would allow voters to clearly understand the platform they endorse with their vote should be the goal. Governing coalitions should form after the voters have chosen representatives who stand for their actual beliefs. This can only happen through serious electoral reform including run-offs or the elimination of winner-take all elector distribution. Nothing happens otherwise.