Third Party & Independents Archives

Trump Had Better Start Wonking; Now

Of course Trump is angry at the political party system in America. The political parties - especially the GOP - are angry at the political party system. Angry that the Grand Old Party is not working as it’s established leaders feel, think, and apparently know it should. Or angry that the Grand Old Party is not opening up to popular discontent and allowing new blood in if you happen to be more Tea Party/Conservative.

The Donald needs to wonk out a little. For example, Rick Hardy of Western Illinois University is helpful in this regard. Hardy lists 10 paradoxes of the American political party system, (in a 2011 paper to visiting Germans who know a thing or two about political parties), and it's relationship to the constitution. Nope. They're not in the constitution, but they emerged immediately afterwards in the ratification process. The conventional wisdom is that they built bridges and forged compromises that enabled the nascent constitution to be ratified.

No parties, no ratification? We'll never know, but that seems to be the justification that's prevalent. And as much as the founding father's expressed a general distaste - if not outright condemnation - for political parties, they seemed to have been a necessary evil.

Are they still necessary? Would America rip itself to pieces without the grand, hypocritical, favor-trading, big tents that they offer? That's what Hardy himself suggests.

Perhaps it's reached the point in 2016 where the two traditional parties are no longer able to bridge the differences and create the coalitions necessary to justify their traditional roles. Their leadership in the Congress, for example, is all about creating rules to keep insurgencies out on the sidewalk. Or down the hall in the (relatively) tinier offices.

Or is this year an inflection point where one or two third parties enter - would Sanders also create a third party? - capture the anger on each side of the spectrum, and then have their platform stolen by the GOP and the Democrats?

It's called adapting and it's what the two main parties have done time and again over the last couple of centuries. So behind the outrage at the fact that delegates and the party establishment do indeed make up the rules as they go along, there's the underlying fact that political parties are essential to American representative democracy and the republic which they both support and feed off of.

Trump himself - and perhaps Bernie Sanders - is at a crucial crossroads. He has to decide if he wants to stay in the GOP or go his way with a third party. He has a month or two to figure it out. But either alternative will only work with a detailed and well organized ground game. A wonkfest if there ever was one. Trump had better start wonking. Now.

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Comment #404249

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Comment #423083

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Posted by: at January 9, 2018 11:00 AM
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