John F. Harris wrote in Politico today, theorizing about what a “Post-Donald Trump” reality might look like in American politics from the vantage point of so many Republicans today who chose to buck the system this year, working actively alongside Democrats to support Joe Biden and other Democratic candidates running against GOP incumbents in congress?
He asked, “What will happen to these strange bedfellows [after the elections]?”
He points out quite accurately that what seems to bind together the camps of Democrats and Republican “Never Trumpers” is that they both share a “revulsion toward Trump personally – his vulgarity, his mendacity, the heedlessness and even nihilism of his approach to governance.”
Donald Trump himself has done more than anyone to further push these two ideologically polar opposite groups together and at a critically inopportune moment for his reelection campaign, just 4 months before the election, the president truly has no one else to blame but himself.
The combination of his disjointed, mismanaged and often confusing response to the global pandemic with over 130,000 Americans dead and new coronavirus cases now spiking again, accusations of pushing through programs favoring those who least need economic assistance with federal economic aid while dealing with a major recession with record unemployment and the president himself pouring gasoline on the fires of outrage and public protest over racial inequality and police brutality against people of color.
Even his most loyal supporters have often winced at many of Trump’s recent statements and tweets, especially in recent days with an increasing number of reports indicating that Trump ignored intelligence suggesting that the Russians were offering bounties on the lives of US troops.
The president – attempting to deflect the criticism and deny the reports – has only managed to dig himself into a deeper hole with members of his own party now coming forward and confirming the existence of the intelligence. This president seems completely incapable of acting like a Commander in Chief.
Adding to his problems, over the last several weeks Trump has continually picked the scars of some of America’s deepest social wounds with vitriolic and divisive rhetoric, directed primarily to an ugly and hateful faction within his core base of support.
Many prominent Republicans have left the party since 2016 – as a result of Trump – calling his antics and divisive rhetoric “embarrassing,” with a number of them predicting that the party of Lincoln would be soon facing an approaching political reckoning.
And it appears that reckoning indeed is approaching quickly now.
Whether it be due to political inexperience or truly by – as many of his supporters insist – calculated design (which is even much more troublesome in itself to consider), all that Trump has really accomplished is to multiply the voices and the resulting volume of his opposition.
This president’s political obituary one day will be deservedly crude and harsh, but Trump will also be remembered for being the impetus motivating the incredible feat of pushing the moderate left and moderate right wings of each party closer together; much closer than ever before in recent history.
In such an environment, there are a host of issues on which traditional liberals and traditional conservatives are generally more in tune with each other than they are with the extreme fringes of their own party.
What’s more, many of the questions on which liberals and conservatives share common beliefs and values have a very personal and intimate edge. They touch on our own personal, core values – how we perceive ourselves and our place in the world – more than they do any programmatic details of partisan policy.
Historically, debates on issues of values in lieu of policy have the most staying power in terms of creating change in American politics, suggesting the distinct possibility of a fundamental shift in the political and ideological landscape of America once the stain and embarrassment of Donald Trump and his collective brand has been washed off our federal government.
We could be witnessing the very seeds of what could become new and powerful alliances, as well as new divisions within both parties.
With a minor few exceptions, America has been under primarily a two party system and our electoral system nearly dictates its necessity, otherwise it would be increasingly more complicated for any single party to obtain the required 270 electoral votes needed to win in a presidential election.
That in itself might be a good point to consider in the argument in favor of abolishing the electoral college.
Doing so would require a constitutional amendment, no small task in itself but the endeavour could take on new urgency if we see one or both of our two parties splitting into moderate-extreme factions after this coming election.
More than a few will argue that such an idea is improbable, reminding us that many predicted that very same thing after Ross Perot gathered nearly 20% of the vote in 1992, but was soon forgotten before the 1996 election cycle.
The 1992-1996 era in American politics however, was a very different time and nowhere near the divisiveness controlling our country today. It’s not even a close comparison.
And this certainly isn’t politics as usual when so many prominent Republican groups – like the veteran operatives of the Lincoln Project – join in actively supporting and campaigning for the Democratic presidential nominee. It’s a politically historic moment when once-scorned backers of George W. Bush’s Iraq War like Bill Kristol and David Frum find themselves embraced by the liberal resistance.
Maybe in this increasingly partisan world of American politics, it’s time to move on from our two party system to give American voters more choices and as a result, potentially a much louder voice in our government by obligating our elected officials to compromise and govern by coalition, not by one sociopathic president’s domination over the ideology and legislative agenda of congress.
Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Thomas Paine, and John Adams; all deeply revered American icons.
These four individuals have been credited with creating the single greatest political document ever yet could never have even dreamed of the role that media would play and the powerful force that social media would yield in our political system when they structured the constitutional balance or powers that have helped keep our government leaders in check across all branches of government for well over two centuries.
Our founding fathers were incapable of even imagining such a scenario where the executive branch could wield such an unforeseen tool as a heavy political lever against congress, when they penned our constitution nearly two and a half centuries ago.
We must forgive them.
Control of congress by coalition would certainly go a long way to accomplish the constitutional fix needed to restore the balance of powers between the legislative and executive branches; a gaping hole exposed and exacerbated by Trump over the last four years as he used his considerable influence over his political base to apply feverous pressure on Republican members of congress to accept and support his agenda.
2020 is bringing new political alliances, potential party divisions and the possibility of creating a system where voters really have more than two viable options to choose from on the ballot. Who knows, we may end up actually thanking Donald Trump for one thing after all; this caustic environment that he helped create may in turn plant the seeds of what could become the very best political and constitutional remedy possible for our nation, moving forward in this new digital age of American politics.
Whatever be the outcome, a political movement is underway and welcome. This new chorus of voices is growing in number and volume…