New Party System Ahead?
Posted on November 9, 2016
Political analysts are talking about Trumpism leading to a new party system. I don’t see it happening, or at least I don’t seen how drastic changes are possible in the near term.
“Party system” is academic jargon for the alignment of major factions or interests into the two party system. Every thirty years or so they realign. Currently we are 50 years or so into the 6th party system, created when LBJ’s voting rights act broke up FDR’s 5th party system. In the current system, the GOP mainly includes crypto-racists, downwardly mobile non-college males, white southerners, antigovernment/business-libertarians, and the radical Christian right (all heavily overlapping groups). It also includes a certain number of left-over moderates who self-identify as “conservative” and have no idea what they are voting for. The Dems include minorities, career women, life-style liberals, other progressives, and the Educated Elites.
The realignment theorists think that race and misogyny will have to decline in significance for determining party loyalty. Their logic is that the GOP has got to change in order to be competitive, and it can’t compete successfully on racism.
I think race and male misogyny are not going to go away for a while as leading issues on both sides of the fence. Certain things follow.
1. The racists and people opposed to gender equality are going to remain in the GOP. That will keep career women and minorities and most progressives in the Democratic Party.
2. Southern whites will go with the racists.
3. The religious right will go with the Southern whites. They have a history of being comfortable with New Jim Crow crypto-racism as well.
So the largest alignments left have to do with progressive fiscal policy versus anti-tax, anti-government conservatism. I think progressive fiscal policy has to stay in the Democratic party because the minorities are disproportionately poor, the progressives support it. Also, women’s rights depend on an interventionist government.
That will keep the libertarian billionaires in the GOP coalition.
Many of the EEs (the Educated Elites I’ve previously discussed) will tend to stay with the Dems, for the reason that conservative social and fiscal policies are bad for growth and bad for science.
The one thing that is in play is rich people’s money. If the Dems actually want to help working people, they have to stop depending on rich businessmen for campaign finance. If they do that then lots of moderate billionaires will migrate to the GOP and take some of the EEs with them.
The counter argument to all this is that Trump appealed to none of the usual business/libertarian themes and instead talked up fiscal populism. That means there will be a lot of internal strife ahead for the GOP. However I don’t think the GOP can actually support reforms that help working people.
At most, Trumpism might lead to economic isolationism, which would drive more rich people into the Democratic Party.