Hours ago I surveyed the current field of major party candidates in the context of two challengers, both of whom hope (almost certainly in vain) for contested conventions.
And in my hurry to marshal a dozen thoughts into as few words as possible, I forgot to mention one important thing: the realignment of the Republican Party could happen contested convention or no. If Trump breezes through the rest of the primary season, and into a successful crowning ceremony in Cleveland next July, he may very well change the nature of the GOP. In fact, it is more likely to occur under a Trump sweep.
Why? Because, unless Trump wins the presidency and governs in a manner more-or-less acceptable to libertarians, social conservatives, Main Streeters and neoconservatives — surely an impossible task — his win will signal the breakdown of the Republican Fantasy.
What is that fantasy? It is the Reaganite vision, wherein social conservatives, business people, free-marketers and neocon warriors all get what they want, and that getting is compatible . . . that these four groups are four great groups that group best together.
What could happen is that Trump brings in moderate Democrats and independents into the Republican fold, sending others hither to the winds.
I suspect that, if Trump is true to his rhetoric, it will be the libertarians, and possibly the neocons, who will make for the exits. That will leave the Republican Party a more nationalist and protectionist — but perhaps less imperialistic — force in modern politics.
You are familiar with the quadrant view of political ideologies, between Authoritarians, right-wingers (pseudo-conservatives), left-wingers (pseudo-progressives) and Libertarians. Right now the authoritarians are partially on the outs. If Trump succeeds, the shift in the complexion of the GOP would almost certainly move more authoritarian. Here is a good example of the chart, with my perception of the current complexion of Republican constituency, and then with a possible future, more Trumpian:
Of course, one of the things about Trump is: he is unpredictable. He is The Mule.
And as such, who knows, really, how he would govern?
On the other hand, if Trump wins the nomination but loses the presidency, would the more authoritarian voters he pulled in change the permanent complexion of the Party of Lincoln? It seems doubtful, but considering how unsuccessful the coalition has been, despite its obvious persistence, its unraveling sure seems inevitable.
Another thing I neglected to mention concerns the punishing vote.
We spend a lot of time in politics talking about what people are for: for this, for that.
But Obama got in office in part out of a reaction against Bush in particular and Republicans in general. Voters — especially the marginal, independent voter — voted Democrat to punish Republicans. Who truly did need punishing.
Will marginal voters reverse themselves, and punish the Democrats, who really should be punished?
By talking to Democrats, I’d guess no. But the logic of the marginal voter suggests that punishing Democrats may indeed be a factor, and may lead to a lot of Trump votes in November. Remember: democracy’s chief success and function is not the expression of any general will, but the peaceful removal of individuals and groups from power.
Trouble is, it won’t be a simple two-party field in November, and there is almost as much Hillary Hate as Trump Hate. This suggests to me not only that many current Bernie Sanders voters will vote Trump, but a not-insignificant number will protest and vote Libertarian. As in the Libertarian Party and its presumptive nominee Gary Johnson, on the ballot, I am told, in every state in the union. And Johnson may finally take those quasi-libertarians who usually vote Republican. The question then becomes, of the punishment-prone voters, how many will vote Trump and how many will vote Johnson? Could Johnson help Hillary get the election?
Or could the eventual Electoral College make-up send the election to the House of Representatives?
We live in interesting times.