The last five years have realigned the political parties in significant ways. Today’s GOP is more tuned into the working class, entrepreneurs, small business, and patriotic populists. Democrats are reflective of the societal elites: academics, urbanites, corporations, mainstream media, Hollywood, social media influencers, and social activists.
The political realignment has challenged the leadership of both parties and the internal fights will largely dictate the November outcomes. Do the parties nominate radicals out of the mainstream that add to the chaos? Or do the traditionalists take control and restore some level of order?
This GOP coalition showed its potency in Michigan by making Donald Trump the first Republican to win the state in 28 years, with the mid-terms the next big test in its sticking power, and perhaps that of our democracy.
Republican Business Support Largely Replaced By Ideological Grassroots Donors
The changes within the Michigan Republican Party have occurred over a decade. Governor Rick Synder was a non-partisan governor who didn’t treat the state GOP as an adjunct of his office. With the rise of the Tea Party, new anti-establishment forces increased their influence without a “check” from the establishment.
With the rise of the more populist MAGA bloc increasing their influence, the more traditional party voices are receding. The business community has pulled back from engaging the party – at the grassroots and donor level – reducing their influence within. At the federal level, business support has been replaced by grassroots donors who are more ideological and increasingly at odds with the priorities of the business community.
The Rules Don’t Matter, Our Democracy Is Suffering
We’ve also reached a point that the rules no longer matter, only which side you are on. If either side doesn’t like the outcome, the rules are the reason, they are unjust, they should be ignored. Until we are back to a place where the rules matter, our democracy is weakened. There is a lot of overheated rhetoric but if there’s any real threat to our democracy, this is it.
Without Election Reform – Chaos Will Be The Norm
Election reform has been weaponized by both sides. It is now a litmus test for the right and a religion for the left. Both sides exaggerate the risks but there’s an underlying truth we can’t ignore and that is huge numbers of voters have lost faith in the integrity of our elections. We can litigate the legitimacy of their concerns, but that doesn’t change their deeply held beliefs. Rather than enacting reforms that reassure every voter that their vote can be trusted, they are mocked and dismissed.
If we don’t fix this, every close election will be a controversial election. 2020 won’t be an anomaly, it will be the norm.
There is a strong strain of populism running through both parties and pushing both further outside their traditional lanes. Time is usually the best antidote as in the past these movements have lost their energy. However, economic and societal upheaval is likely to get worse and increase the anxiety among these blocs. Irresponsible media and the accelerant of social media make it increasingly difficult to imagine the current environment improving, but without more leadership and transparency from traditional institutions, the chaos will continue.