Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405

Facebook: Digby Parton

@BloggersRUs (Tom Sullivan)

thedigbyblog at gmail
satniteflix at gmail
publius.gaius at gmail
tpostsully at gmail
Spockosbrain at gmail
Richardein at me.com


Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic

Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018 March 2018 April 2018 May 2018 June 2018 July 2018


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Trumpism, broken politics and third-party futility

by digby

I did a little thinking about what awaits the GOP after November for Salon this morning:

Being a person who doesn't like to make predictions since I'm usually wrong, I even hesitate to predict that Hillary Clinton will win the election despite the polling. This election season has already been so bizarre I'm even less inclined than usual to assume anything. Nonetheless, it's reasonable to wonder what's going to become of the Republican Party after November in the event that Donald Trump is defeated. (If he isn't we have a whole different set of problems beginning with very long lines at the passport office.)

The establishment will likely see it as an opportunity to reassert its dominance in the wake of a Trump defeat but Trump voters may have something to say about that. However much the DC insiders love that dreamy Paul Ryan he gets booed at Trump rallies. He is enemy number three (after Hillary and Obama) in the conservative movement press. Mitch McConnell doesn't fare much better. The establishment may have a harder time picking up the pieces than they realize. 

So what happens if they don't? Is "Trumpism" something that exists beyond the reality star himself? Public policy professor Justin Guest conducted a major study of white working class politics for his new book called "The New Minority: White Working Class Politics in an Age of Immigration and Inequality" and came to a startling conclusion:

I solicited white Americans’ support for Donald Trump, but also for a hypothetical third party dedicated to “stopping mass immigration, providing American jobs to American workers, preserving America’s Christian heritage, and stopping the threat of Islam”—essentially the platform of the UK’s right-wing British National Party, adapted to the United States. How many white Americans do you think would consider voting for this type of protectionist, xenophobic party? 
65 percent.
He says that most of these people are likely to fit the standard profile of a Trump voter: male, working class and conservative. But they are also something that other studies and polls have not turned up --- young. Most of them are under 40 which means this might be more enduring than most people believe.

His thesis is that if the GOP simply goes back to standard movement doctrine we stand a good chance of seeing the rise of a real right wing third party like that which is happening all over Europe at the moment. This would obviously not be a good thing for the Republicans. On the other hand, if the GOP decides to accept this ideology, they would "risk ushering in an era of unprecedented Democratic dominance." That is quite a dilemma.

Like virtually every one of the 7,568 articles written in just the last few months about this political faction (including my own) Guest's delves into the various reasons why these folks are feeling the way they feel and ends up with the same economic/sociological explanation that most people do:

I observed a remarkable sense of loss. Lost wealth in many cases. But more poignantly, I observed a sense of lost status. And while some white Americans were concerned by their loss of political status as a constituency with power, many others were more frustrated by their loss of social status—their drift from the middle of American society to its periphery. Once America’s backbone, many white working class people now feel like an afterthought.

This is a large group of people so it cannot be ignored. But it's very unlikely that this phenomenon will result in a third party, at least beyond a cycle or two. And that's because the American system just isn't equipped for it. There have often been third and fourth parties but they rarely get any traction and their presidential candidates almost never have an impact on the outcome much less win.

Theodore Roosevelt remains the most successful third party presidential candidate in history when in 1912 he actually carried six states in the electoral college and won 27% of the vote under the Bull Moose (Progressive Party) banner. In 1948, Strom Thurmond ran as the segregationist States' Rights candidate and won a few Southern votes. That race foreshadowed George Wallace's candidacy in which he won five states in 1968 as the American Independent Party candidate. The Reform party's Ross Perot got 19% of the popular vote in 1992 but didn't win even one electoral vote. And while the Green's Ralph Nader won 2.7% of the popular vote it arguably had a bigger impact on history than any of the others due to the race coming down to a handful of votes in the state of Florida. (Except for the Green Party which consistently performs at around 2%, all those parties disappeared within a decade.)

The main reason for this is structural, related to the fact that the president must obtain an electoral college majority which makes it very difficult to build a sustainable party from the ground up. Combined with the problem of getting ballot access in 50 different states and obtaining the money required for a modern presidential run, the chances for success are pretty much nil.

The way these third party campaigns are dealt with is by the parties folding the agenda of the defeated third party into their own under the same guise of "reform" that often inspired the new party in the first place. In the case of the Thurmond and Wallace candidacies, the parties were realigning and the racist agenda was picked up by what had been the opposition. Trumpism has elements of both, but because of its strong racist and xenophobic elements it's destined to remain in the GOP. The globalization fears, the outrage at corruption in the political system and the underlying social dysfunction, however, are themes that were part of both the Perot and the Nader campaigns as well as Trump and Bernie Sanders. This is a bipartisan challenge.

Guest suggests that if the Republicans want to fend of extinction in the near term they'd better figure out how to address those issues. He thinks it's a matter of reviving meritocracy, education, economic development and fair market prices which strikes me as mostly beside the point. And he says Democrats must persuade them that people of color have the same problems they do which does not seem promising. I think the question of what to do about this is still open.

I don't make predictions, but I'm willing to guess that we will see continued turmoil on both the left and right for a while. There are some economic and cultural tectonic shifts going on that are shaking up the entire system and they don't seem to be slowing down. We're in for a bumpy ride.