Presidential Endorsement Game Turning into Bitter Fistfight


Wait, what? The Republicans control 2/3 of the elected federal government, most state legislatures, and most governorships. But you somehow think the Republican party will implode, and that -- at the exact same time -- the Democratic Party will be controlled by wealthy interests who don't give a shit about the poor? That is nuts. The Republican Party shows no sign of imploding. Even this year -- a year that is absolutely terrible for them -- they will probably continue to control the House (e. g. Reichert seems poised to cruise now that he will run against someone who has already dropped out). But if it did implode, the Democrats would of course quickly move way to the left, just as the Republicans would move way to the right if the Democrats were out of the way.
Here's the thing about American politics. There are always two parties. That's an artifact of our constitutional structure. We have first past the post, winner take all elections. We have a Presidential, rather than a parliamentary system. Therefore, third parties will almost never be anything but protest votes.

Because there can only be two, those parties are not founded on ideology but rather on coalitions of various interest groups, mostly organized around social class, ethnicity, geography and cultural outlook. Any intellectual ideology that may appear in one party or another is generally a veneer used to gussy up and present policies designed to benefit a constituency as serving the broad national interest. In other words, we start with our political desires and then create an ideology to justify them.

The two party system is going through one of its periodic realignments. In particular, the Republican coalition is falling apart, mainly because the interests of one of its important members, working class whites, have largely been ignored because the GOP started buying into their own ideological BS a little too deeply and forgot that the cardinal rule of politics is to bring home the bacon. Donald Trump represents that constituency's (and it's a big one, one of the biggest in the country) attempt to remind the GOP that they need to look after them better.

The question is, what will the coalitions look like after? It's too soon to tell, and these things could break in a number if different ways, but one strong possibility is that it could break along economic class lines fairly strongly, with Democrats being the party of coastal elites, globalist, cosmopolitan, materialist, highly educated. Such a party would be comfortable with crony capitalism, large corporations, probably more fiscally conservative than it is now, but also still socially liberal. Basically a vaguely corrupt, more libertarian style party.

Meanwhile, the GOP might become more attuned to working class issues more broadly. More nativist, more attuned to working and middle class economics (more in favor of government programs you earn your way into rather than simply qualify for, for instance), still socially conservative. Probably less racism, in an attempt to build a working class coalition. I could eventually see the revamped GOP strongly appealing to blacks and Latinos along those lines. If we're lucky, they might turn out like Southern Democrats of the FDR coalition.

That's one possibility. There are others, of course. But what won't happen is that we won't become a one-party country. Because there is no way one party can successfully integrate enough interest groups to build a lasting coalition. FDR probably came closest, and even then we had Republican majorities following WWII and Ike in the '50s (with the 1960 election being razor thin). The groups shuffle around periodically, and one or the other party gains temporary advantages, but we always revert to the mean.