The Final Nail In The Coffin?
Gainesville–The 2016 Election season has been an anomaly.
On the GOP side, both outsider candidates, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, are the front runners, while the establishment candidates, Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush, were forced to suspend their campaigns. Meanwhile, on the Democrat’s side, Bernie Sanders is experiencing an unprecedented surge against the establishment candidate, Hillary Clinton.
This phenomenon is a result of something that has been slowly occurring over the past decade; the death of the two party system.
The current two party system has been on the decline due to increased voter frustration with the Republican and Democratic establishments and as a result, an increasing amount of voters identify as Independents. According to a Gallup poll, independent voters have increased by 8% between the years 2008 and 2014, a number that continues to rise in 2016.
This trend, coupled with the internal strife among both parties, could be disastrous for the established political system. Both parties’ establishments are not only dealing with the unprecedented success of outsider candidates, but a multitude of other issues as well, especially the GOP.
The GOP establishment just can’t catch a break. Their candidates have been driven out of the race by two of the most hated men in Washington D.C.: Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. To make matters worse, it appears more and more likely that the GOP will have a brokered convention, where they will be forced to pick their poison; give the nomination to Trump and lose the general election or give it to Cruz and alienate millions of voters.
The division among candidate preference isn’t the only problem facing the GOP; they also cannot decide on a platform. At every RNC convention the party must lay out the platform they will uphold for the next four years. Traditionally, the Republican Party makes traditional marriage a pillar of their platform, condemning the idea of gay marriage. However, there are many within the Republican Party who are pushing for a more lenient ruling on gay marriage during this year’s RNC.
Essentially, the biggest financial backers of the party have been financing the American Unity Fund, a group that has begun lobbying delegates to create a platform that permits same sex marriage. The argument that many of these billionaires, such as Paul Singer and Seth Klarman, are making is that in the year 2016, it is unsustainable to uphold the typically rigid stance the GOP takes on social issues. They believe if they continue to cling to their outdated views on social issues, the GOP will be doomed to losing the presidency again and again. This is a valid concern, as the Republicans haven’t won a presidential election since 2004 and are on the cusp of losing another. Despite this fact, by moving away from the disapproval of same sex marriage, they are alienating the evangelical wing of the Republican Party, thus creating further division among the GOP.
Although the presidency seems out of reach for the GOP in 2016, at least they hold the House and Senate, right?
Unfortunately it’s more bad news for the GOP when you analyze the 2016 Congressional elections. Currently, only 11 percent of voters approve of the GOP controlled Congress, a trend that continues downwards. Mitch McConnell and company have essentially thrown their congressional dominance out the window by refusing to do their jobs and blockading any sort of hearing for Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland.
The GOP has metaphorically backed themselves into a corner; they can cave and come off as weak, or they hold strong and risk the next president, most likely a Democrat, appointing an even more liberal judge. Either way, it doesn’t look promising for Mitch McConnell and the GOP establishment, as there is a legitimate possibility that the Democrats could gain control of the House, the Senate, and the Presidency in 2016.
While on the surface it seems that everything is coming up Millhouse for the Democrats, if you dig a little deeper it’s clear that they face harsh division within their party as well. The success of Bernie Sanders has created two camps of the Democratic Party; the establishment supporters of Clinton and the anti-establishment supporters of Sanders.
This dichotomy, is the only tangible threat to Democratic control of the White House. Many Sanders supporters despise Hillary Clinton more than Trump and vow they will never vote for her regardless of political affiliation. They would rather vote for the candidate they support than simply vote for whoever has a best chance of winning within their party. This could spell disaster for the Democrats’ dreams of the White House in 2016, but presents an even more troubling problem.
If voters no longer exhibit party loyalty, it is the beginning of the end for the two party system. It’s only a matter of time before an Independent candidate, such as a candidate from the Green Party, sits in the White House atop the ashes of the old two party system.
The 2016 election has made it abundantly clear that the establishments of both parties are in dire straits. They are caught between a rock and a hard place; or rather many rocks, and many hard places. The only question left to answer is: can they make it out the other side alive?