Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Monday, May 2, 2016

Party Does Matter

One thing that differentiates Clinton and Sanders supporters - or Trump and anyone else's supporters - is how they feel about the party.  Clinton is a Democrat, Sanders is barely one.  Clinton is raising money for candidates across the board, Sanders is not.  That's why she has the Super Delegates sewn up and will be the nominee.

This article by Scott Lemieux explains well why party matters more than the candidate.  Especially in a time of parliamentary levels of party loyalty and polarization, the party you choose to run for matters a great deal.  Lemieux's example of Terry McAuliffe is a great one.  He was a hack, he probably still is a hack, but like any good hack, he can tell which way the wind is blowing.  This makes the differences between Clinton and Sanders actually appear quite small within the possible range of policies that they might actually be able to enact.  They may quibble on the margins of what they can and cannot do, but they agree fundamentally on the direction.

What worries me more and more is that there is a flip-side to this partisan loyalty.  The GOP tends to fall obediently behind their nominee, but this year they have been fighting like hell to stop Trump.  Given their tendency to fall in line, they really don't have any mechanism to stop him though, which has led to all those sad, failed Stop Trump efforts.

When Trump becomes the nominee, he becomes the face and voice of the party.  This scares Republican leaders, because Trump's economic and foreign policy positions are so heterodox.  The good news is that Trump might move the GOP away from it's panty-sniffing moralistic efforts to regulate bedroom and bathroom behaviors.  He's also expressed interest in infrastructure spending.

The worrisome part, of course, is that Trump represents the sneering, angry bigotry that many Americans still have towards minorities and women.  As he descends into the gutter to attack Clinton, he will unleash more misogyny and more racism.  And that will become the GOP position.  Millions of Americans will take their cues from the party and adopt Trump's voice as their own.

Maybe this leads to the creative destruction of the old GOP.  Maybe it just coarsens our discourse for a season.  Or maybe it unleashes some rough beast upon the land that cannot be returned to it cage in early November.

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