Monday, March 7, 2016

What Will Follow the Seventh Party Realignment?

Short answer: no one can know, and that's kind of unsettling.
Long answer: It will take a while for realignment to happen, especially because of the current status of the two parties. The last three major party systems have been two-party systems. It is the natural convergence point of a pure first-past-the-post system, and it tends to the coalition of disparate aims into single parties. Unfortunately, now we have three problems:

Problem 1: Establishment Republicans are not well liked by the wing (which is now the base). Bringing the wing into the base has been a disaster, and when your party can't get along, one faction or the other has to bring order, or you have to split. Look for the Establishment side to try to rewrite party bylaws, possibly to enable superdelegates in the Democrat style. Establishment-lite personalities like Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio tend to do well in Congress, but as of 2016 are failing to capture the hearts of party members. If the Establishment types in power can manage to consolidate it, they will finally unite the party, at the cost of some voters. It seems unlikely that the Republicans will hold both chambers and the White House at any given time in the next two cycles.

Problem 2: What of the Radical Republicans? They have set the agenda for almost eight years, and if the party makes a lurch to the left, it is POSSIBLE there could be a schism in the GOP, resulting in a new party (the Tea Party?) which will flank the GOP as they move to the center on immigration and perhaps gay marriage and maybe maybe gun control.

Problem 3: What of the Bernie Bloc? The Democratic Party will almost certainly #UniteBlue in 2016 behind Hillary Clinton, but the left wing has been ignored for the last 16 years of Democratic administration. After Occupy, and in a less-than-emboldening economy, the social democracy / Basic Income / Socialist / Communist voting group appears to be swelling. The Democratic Party leadership has not yet shown itself to be fully committed to shutting the wing down (perhaps out of fear of a Trump Planet, perhaps because this group is newer than the Tea Party). If the Democrats can move to the left without losing enough campaign funding / moderate voters, they may be able to make nice for another couple of cycles. It remains to be seen as to whether they will.

In short: Expect a break in the GOP, either officially (new party) or with much greater GOP primary competition between "moderates" / Establishment candidates and "patriot" / Tea Party candidates. On the Democrat side, expect a leftward drift or the beginning of a similar schism.

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