Let’s face it. This year’s presidential race is showing us just how broken America’s two-party system has become. Not only are we facing a political rivalry between the aisles, but the divide within the parties themselves has reached a new level of epic dysfunctionality. It’s distinctly possible that we haven’t seen an election this divided since Abraham Lincoln won a hotly contested four-way race back in 1860 with only about 40% of the popular vote.
Thing is, we’re used to this two-party system, in which each party (after extensive deliberation) puts forward their best candidate. Come November, America chooses between the two, and voila: we have our next President of the United States.
The problem inherent to this system, though, is that it’s nearly impossible to find two candidates that can collectively represent the varying viewpoints of the 318-odd million Americans they’re attempting to represent. Ultimately, the “Us vs. Them” party system forces nearly everyone to make compromises, and we end up with a slate of candidates that no one is truly excited about.
This time, though, things are looking a little different. The disunity among both parties has only continued to grow. In fact, we’re seeing parties within the parties. The Democrats are divided between Clinton supporters & Bernie fans, while the Republicans are divided into two camps as well: those who think that Donald Trump is perfect for the job, and those who don't.
While I’ve overly simplified things for the purpose of outlining where we’re at (my apologies to Gary Johnson supporters - we’ll talk about the Libertarian party in a future piece), I think this election is revealing some interesting developments in the field of party politics. It’s becoming a very real possibility that the political disunity we’re experiencing will continue beyond the 2016 election cycle. I’m personally hopeful that it will go on to spark a re-imagining of political parties as we know them, breaking the grip of the two dominant parties, and allowing other candidates the opportunity to rise to the national stage. I think it’s distinctly possible that the four distinct ‘groups’ we saw during the primaries within the two major parties (two in each,) that will potentially continue beyond 2016 to directly influence the mid-term elections, and possibly even the 2020 presidential election.
In the Democratic party, we saw a sharp divide between the supporters of Vermont senator Bernie Sanders and Secretary of State Clinton’s following. Sanders, an Independent-turned-Democrat (& professional curmudgeon) captured the younger vote with his socialist philosophies, building momentum among those dissatisfied with the status quo. Meanwhile, Secretary Clinton argued the most moderate position and garnered a healthy majority of the 45+ demographic. This generational divide makes me suspect that we haven’t seen the last of this clash of ideals.
On the Republican side of the aisle, the divide is very straightforward. You either like Donald Trump and his plan to Make America Great Again, or you don’t. It’s pretty simple, really. We’re not entirely sure who or what Trump’s Republican opponents stand for, but we know they dislike him almost as much as the Democrats. With Trump becoming a major player in the Republican party, this disagreement isn’t going away anytime soon.
I can’t help but think that would be a good thing for America.