A One- Two- or Three-Party Political System?

A One- Two- or Three-Party Political System?

© David Burton 2016

Donald Trump and the Republican Party

     Wither the American political system? As the 2016 elections near, serious questions arise as to what the political future of America will look like. On the one hand, we have a Democratic Party that, over the past several decades, has been edging closer to a socialist agenda, with an ever-growing list of government hand-outs, socialist programs like Obamacare, and even an avowed Socialist as a presidential candidate – some would even call him a clost Communist.

     Ever since the time of Franklin Roosevelt and the “New Deal” many Americans have associated the Democratic Party with Socialism and even Communism. Today Bernie Sanders calls himself a “democratic socialist.” But there was a time, not so long ago, when that would have been equated with Carl Marx, Josef Stalin, Mao Zedong and Fidel Castro. And the phrase “democratic socialist” would have been placed in the same dumpster as “People’s Republic.”

     However, for many of today’s younger voters, the negative consequences related to the failed and discredited socio-economic and political philosophies of Socialism and Communism have no meaning. The USSR and all its socialist republics no longer exist. The economic miracle of China under capitalism has swept away the miseries and failures of China under Mao. For Millennials, the euphoria over the recently announced improved relations with Cuba masks the poverty and repression that still exists there under its aging Communist regime. Young voters might fall for the false promises of heaven on earth as promised by a Utopian socialist Pied Piper.

     In Hillary Clinton, we have a presidential candidate that is under FBI investigation for national security violations and a former Secretary of State, who can point to nothing but failures during her time in that office. To many voters, Hillary Clinton offers the hope of more of the same government largesse, don’t-rock-the-boat foreign policy, a liberalized immigration stance, equal rights for women and minorities and, perhaps most important of all, stability or “more of the same”.

     Normally, and with any reasonable opposition candidate, both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders would be imminently beatable.

     However, with the emergence a of a foul-mouthed, egomaniacal clown as its presumptive presidential candidate, the Republican Party faces the possibilities (likelihood?) of a) its dissolution, b) its passing into political irrelevance, or, c) the emergence of a third party comprised of disaffected Republicans, Democrats and Independents with the goal of constituting a political party based upon the more traditional American values of a small nonintrusive government, free enterprise, individualism, a strong national defense and a moral imperative to lead in making the world a better and safer place for all peace-loving peoples.

     Trump's boastful, disrespectful and facts-be damned approach offends numerous Americans: Democrats, Independents and, most importantly, many members or supporters of the Republican Party and the conservative agenda it espouses. He has been appropriately labeled as “a mean-spirited bigot”. Some dyed-in-the-wool Republicans are saying that they are looking for 3rd-party escape hatches from what they see as an impossible choice. Others say they simply won’t vote in the upcoming elections, while still others state that they will hold their noses and vote for Hillary Clinton. No matter which way these Republicans go, it doesn’t bode well for Trump nor the Republican Party. A defeat for Trump may simply be a bump in the road insofar as he is concerned, but the defeat may well have a much more significant and long-lasting impact on the Republican Party. Will disaffected party members and party supporters return to the fold or will they be lost forever? Will we see the end of the Republican Party as a major political entity in America, much as what happened to the Whigs, Federalists, and Bull Moose Parties? What will happen to the party should Trump win?

     In recent years, the Republican Party has been losing favor in the eyes of the American public. In 2013, Republicans garnered a favorability rating of only 28%, a record low.[1]

     Everything about Donald Trump’s persona will drive many true Republicans and independents to vote Democratic even if they dislike Clinton and Sanders. As a racist, a nativist, an astonishingly crude misogynist, and an almost comical anti-intellectual, Trump cuts the perfect villainous figure to many. Nearing mid-2016, he has managed to offend a significant portion of the American electorate, as well as a significant number of America’s friends and allies around the world.

     On the international scene, Trump has succeeded in alienating and/or insulting a significant number of America’s allies. Among them are: Germany’s Merkel[2], Mexico’s president, Enrique Pena Nieto[3], and England’s Prime Minister David Cameron.[4] One senior EU official involved in shaping foreign policy in Brussels stated that a Trump presidency, “would be a disaster for EU-U.S. ties". (Ref. 5) His irreverent statements have also caused a stir in the mid-east, as elsewhere in the world. In December of 2015, “Donald Trump on Thursday called off a planned December trip to Israel, shelving what was shaping up to be an awkward visit by the Republican presidential front-runner following comments that managed to offend Muslims and Jews alike.” (Ref. 6) Instead of enumerating who Donald Trump has offended, it might be simpler to list those he has not affronted.

     Calling Trump the biggest threat to U.S. security, noted writer Max Boot made the following comments: “For the time being, at least, the Republican Party is dead. It was wounded by the Tea Party absolutists who insisted on political purity and rejected any compromise. Now it has been killed by Donald Trump. [Emphasis mine]
     “Trump is an ignorant demagogue who traffics in racist and misogynistic slurs and crazy conspiracy theories.”
      - - -
     “. . . He wants to undertake a police-state roundup of undocumented immigrants and to bar Muslims from coming to this country.  . . .
      - - -
     “. . . {He} is too unstable and erratic to be entrusted with the nuclear triad he has never heard of.  . . . “(Ref. 7)

     Many justifiably regard Trump as completely unreliable. His bombastic utterances on politics may lean rightward on the whole, but they splatter all over the map. At times, he has endorsed universal health insurance, higher taxes on the rich, and even praised leading Democrats — including Obama! He is an egomaniac who gives everyone good reason to doubt his reliability as he has frequently reversed position on a variety issues.

     As one voter who says she probably won’t vote because of her lack of options put it, "I would hate to look back and say ‘I voted for Hitler.' I feel like that may be what is happening if I vote for Trump." (Ref. 8)

     To gain control of the White House and to increase its majorities in both houses of Congress, the Republican Party has needed to attract more women and minorities. Donald Trump has succeeded in offending both constituencies. “In the aftermath of the 2012 election, it was obvious to nearly every analyst outside the Republican Party, and to quite a few of those within it, that the GOP needed to get immigration reform off the table to give it a chance with Latino voters. All House leaders had to do in order to accomplish this was to bring up an immigration-reform bill that had passed in the Senate, and it could have passed with just a few dozen Republican votes. Anger by the base paralyzed them from acting, and they muddled through instead.” (Ref. 9) Now, Trump has compounded the GOP problem with his ill-conceived xenophobic rantings on immigration, undocumented aliens and a southern border wall to be funded by Mexico.

     If Trump has alienated Latino voters, he has shown himself to be an equal-opportunity candidate with regard to women voters. Trump's much publicized shifting views on whether a woman should face punishment for having an abortion if the procedure is banned alienated many. He has derogatorily and publically referred to women as “bimbos,” “dogs”, “fat pigs”, “slobs” and “disgusting animals." Trump’s very audacious and vulgar persona is off-putting to many women (and many men as well). His announced opposition to funding of Planned Parenthood does not endear Trump to many women’s right advocates who see this position as meaning that women “would lose access to birth control, could be charged more than men for health insurance, could have domestic violence and pregnancy disqualify them from health insurance coverage, would no longer be able to turn to Planned Parenthood for care, and would be banned from accessing abortion safely or legally,  . . . In short, Donald Trump’s health care plan would be a disaster for women.” (Ref. 10)

     Over the past several years, the Republican Party has repeatedly shot itself in the foot. The appearance of the GOP being unshakably opposed to equal rights for women because of the opposition by dogmatic Republican ultra-conservatives to abortion and their continuing threat to have Roe Vs. Wade overturned keeps women and some men solidly in the Democratic camp. Their refusal to even consider a Supreme Court nominee, much less vote on his qualifications – as mandated by the U.S. Constitution – has offended many open-minded Americans, myself included. Those receiving some form of government handouts and/or assistance fear a Republican rise to power will mean the end of the gravy train. The Republican’s Evangelical Christian segment continues to alienate LGBT Americans with their opposition to homosexuality and their rigid position on transgender issues. To many Americans, Republicans are viewed as the party of the rich and powerful. The growing income inequality in this country has been reinforcing this perception and the increasing percentage of Americans now falling into the lower income bracket, as the middle-income bracket shrinks, look more favorably upon the populist rhetoric of Democratic politicians like Sanders and Clinton who promise to “steal from the rich and give to the poor”.

     “After the Civil War and Reconstruction, the Republican Party was seen as the friend of the Negro. The Democratic Party was seen as the party that supported segregation and white supremacy. Blacks in both North and South voted Republican.
      - - -
     {Things began to change in the 30’s} “In 1933, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a Democrat, began the New Deal.  . . . He did a great deal to help poor people, which included almost all blacks. In 1936, both blacks and whites voted overwhelmingly for FDR.
     “In the late 1930s, FDR and his wife Eleanor did more for black people than had been done since Reconstruction. Many blacks began voting Democratic routinely. Southern blacks had flooded into Northern cities during the Great Migration. Therefore, the big-city political machines, which were Democratic, began to work to get black votes.
     “By the early 1960s, most African Americans were Democrats, but many remained Republicans. However, things changed in 1964. That year the Republican Party lost the black vote completely, because President Lyndon Johnson, a Democrat, pushed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 through Congress. He also made a major effort to win black votes. The Republican candidate, Senator Barry Goldwater, voted against the Civil Rights Act. Black voters reacted to Goldwater’s opposition by voting overwhelmingly for Johnson.
     In 1968, Richard Nixon used a ‘Southern Strategy’ to win the presidential election. The Southern Strategy consisted of recruiting southern white voters by appealing to racist fears and ignoring black voters.
     - - -
     “Republican candidates have used the Southern Strategy ever since Nixon won in 1968 and had a landslide victory in 1972.  . . .Today, almost all white Southerners vote Republican.
     “This strategy has gained strength outside the South. Since 1972, Democratic Party candidates have won at least 80 percent of the black vote, and Republican candidates have won a majority of the white votes.
     - - -
     “Since 1972, Democratic presidential candidates have won over eighty percent of the black vote.” (Ref. 4)

     Here, in 2016, little has changed and black voters will likely overwhelmingly support the Democratic nominee for president. Neither the Republican Party nor Donald Trump have done anything to change the situation.

     As an interesting aside, it’s ironic to note that it was the Republican Party that championed voting rights for women, while the Democratic Party opposed their emancipation, and it was the Republican Party that was responsible for freeing blacks from slavery in this country and then supporting efforts to grant them real civil liberties under Republican post-Civil-War Reconstruction policies. But, times have changed.

     Losing the 2016 presidential election will be a big deal for the GOP. It means that they will be out of the White House for at least 12 consecutive years. “It means you can’t reverse key policies—like the Affordable Care Act—without a huge backlash. It means you don’t have a stamp on the federal bureaucracy—your hires have either left or retired—and you’ve lost your step on the federal judiciary. It means a less friendly Supreme Court—with consequences that stand for decades—and it means less influence on the international stage. In short, it’s a disaster.” (Ref. 11)

     A Trump-induced landslide defeat of the Republican Party in 2016 could well lead to the breakup of the GOP and the emergence of one or more new political parties, advocating the objectives of the Tea Party, of socially conservative Republicans, of economically conservative Republicans, of moderate Republicans, etc. Even if the party does not fade into oblivion, it may well undergo significant rebuilding and restructuring and might emerge with a totally new (and better?) persona.

     Republicans are in a no-win situation. They can stand on principle and repudiate and refuse to support Trump or they can reach an accommodation with The Donald and give the appearance of being impotent wimps caving in to a bully. In either case they lose. The real question is, will the Republican Party survive? If it does, what will it look like four years down the road? The corollary question to be answered is where do the disaffected turn - to a new revitalized GOP, to a third party, or, horror of horrors, to the Democratic Party?

     Historically, I am a GOP-leaning conservative. I tend to vote the person and the issues and not the party. When I have not favored a Republican candidate nor the Republican platform, I have voted for the Democratic candidate. While I am strongly opposed to many of the policies of the Democratic Party over the past 8 years and I very strongly dislike both current Democratic presidential candidates, come November, I will hold my nose and vote for the Democratic nominee or, possibly, a third party candidate if a viable candidate appears. Under no circumstances would I consider voting for Donald Trump! After all, the new president will be in power for only 4 years. 2020 will offer a new opportunity to find a candidate and a platform more to my liking.

     In the past, the Republican Party has garnered financial donations from me. That has stopped. Will other disaffected Republican supporters do the same? Will money stop flowing in to support Republican candidates for Congress and for state and local offices? Will Republican financial support come solely from Trump’s deep pockets and the coffers of only a few wealthy supporters? Will the GOP morph into a party of only a few rich and famous? How can such a party of the elite few succeed in America?

     God Forbid that disaster should strike and Trump should win! In any event, what does the future hold for America - a one- two- or three-party political system?


  1. 4 lessons from extinct political parties, Keith Wagstaff, The Week, 15 October 2013.
    10 February 2016.
  3. How Should Mexico Respond to Donald Trump?, Uri Friedman, The Atlantic, 7 September 2015.
  4. Trump says he and Cameron may not 'have good relationship', Jane Onyanga-Omara, USA TODAY, 16 May 2016.
  5. Trump's 'America first' speech alarms U.S. allies, Peter Graff, YAHOO! News, 28 April 2016.
  6. Donald Trump cancels Israel visit after comments offend Jews and Muslims, Josef Federman, The Mercury News, 10 December 2015.
  7. Biggest U.S. Security threat: Trump, Max Boot, Boston Herald, Page 13, 14 May 2016.
  8. Evangelicals Face GOP Led by Trump: 'There's Nobody Left', reaganreports@reply.reaganreports.com,
    10 May 2016.
  9. What Happens If Donald Trump Wins the Republican Nomination?, Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer,
    2 December 2015.
  10. Will women voters balk at Trump?, Irin Carmon, MSNBC, 4 March 2016.
  11. Destroying the Party to Save the Party, Jamelle Bouie, Slate, 16 June 2015.


  21 May 2016 {Article 250; Politics_31}    
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