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What a Trump-Sanders General Election Would Do to the Party Establishment

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Are the Democratic and Republican political establishments in trouble? That question seems to be the topic of many headlines since the presidential campaigns of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump took off. But while support for Sanders can be easily explained — and not a huge threat to the Democratic establishment — the Republican Party is going to require some serious soul-searching as they seek to realign themselves with the American populous, should Trump be nominated.

Sanders’ popularity can be traced to a leftward shift in American voting attitudes overall — capitalizing on the same liberal coalition that got President Barack Obama elected — as well as the same systemic image issues that have haunted Hillary Clinton since her campaign’s historic collapse in 2008. Just as in 2008, this is still Clinton’s election to lose.

But the truth of the matter is that while the Democratic establishment will likely learn from its mistakes if Sanders is nominated — distance itself from Wall Street and seek to reunite with the liberal fringe-edge of the party — the Republicans have been in trouble for a long, long time.

The election of Barack Obama in 2008 all but refuted a popular political science concept called “realignment theory,” which posits that the two major political parties fully reform every 30 or 60 years.

Realignment elections often coincide with a surge in support for third parties or populist appeals at economic reform, and require support from new coalitions and a shift in party ideology — sometimes even a 180 degree turn in attitudes, as when the Republicans went from ending slavery in 1860 to supporting segregation in 1960.

Throughout the course of American political history, there have been five major realignments that political scientists generally agree on:

  1. The election of 1800, which ushered in the fall of the Federalists and the rise of the Jeffersonian-Democrats.
  2. Abraham Lincoln’s election in 1860, which secured a mandate to end slavery and saw the death of the Whig Party.
  3. The 1896 presidential election, when the debate over the gold standard divided the Democrats, who were overcome by a wave of populism, and secured a dominant stretch for Republicans.
  4. The election of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932, which began a period of Democratic dominance as they slowly became the welfare party and their coalition began to shift northward.
  5. The 1964 election, which officially secured the North for the Democrats as they capitalized on the Great Society coalition, but began a period of Republican resurgence.

Realignment theorists believed that the Republicans were due for a realignment by 1992; it obviously didn’t happen.

That year, Bill Clinton capitalized on a new moderate Democratic coalition and strong southern support to take back the White House, when that election should have been the exclamation point on a period of Republican preeminence. So what went wrong for the GOP?

Realignment theorists believed that the Republicans were due for a realignment by 1992; it obviously didn’t happen.
It all began with Barry Goldwater’s unsuccessful presidential bid in 1964, in which the senator from Arizona mobilized a large conservative coalition to reject the legacy of the New Deal and usher in a new conservative political vanguard. This same coalition would later be mobilized to elect Ronald Reagan — the figurehead of today’s Republican Party — and would inspire Newt Gingrich to write the “Contract with America” in 1994.

Gingrich’s contract was a pledge that all new Republican congressman had to take before entering the House or Senate, which essentially tied them to a set of aging conservative principles from which they could never depart: no new taxes, no supporting LGBT rights, no abortion, etc.

This, in part, explains why Republicans have lagged behind on issues for which the American public has expressed overwhelming support, such as gay marriage and gun control; the Republican establishment is now way out of touch with the average American voter.

Additionally, the flaws of the closed primary system force presidential candidates to appeal to the fringe-edge voters — the 1% of the respective parties that typically control the outcome of the primaries — which is why candidates, such as Mitt Romney in 2012, are so often accused of flip-flopping when they enter the general election and are forced to draw a wider and more moderate appeal.

All of this, coupled with the theory of asymmetric polarization — which posits that the parties have moved further and further apart from each other ideologically over the past 80 years, but that the Republicans have shifted further from the views of the average American voter than have the Democrats — has given the GOP a serious disadvantage in the transition from the primary to the general election.

The Republicans were due for a major image makeover in 1992, and in 2008 and in 2012, but they failed to pay heed to the warning signs of those elections. Their inability to adjust to new voter trends has cost them a period of political dominance, according to realignment theory, and now it has led to a political outsider, Donald Trump, taking the reins of the 2016 presidential election.

So while the Democrats will likely feel the heat if Bernie Sanders receives their presidential nomination this year, they will recover quickly enough, but the Republicans won’t. They didn’t learn their lesson in 1992; they didn’t learn their lesson in 2008 or in 2012; and if history has proven anything, they likely won’t learn their lesson this year either.

Photo Source: Forward.com

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710 comments
Tanya Corina
Tanya Corina

Yeah he hasn't done those things because he has no political experience or background lol

Scott Larson
Scott Larson

Ronda Reynolds Myers the easiest way to avoid Trump is to support Bernie. Hillary will lose against him.

Tanya Corina
Tanya Corina

I would record this debate and watch it everyday of Sanders presidency and of course send it to all the trump supporters I know. Sanders would SLAUGHTER trump in a debate because Sanders doesn't have any scams or scandals against him

Dasha Hlavenka
Dasha Hlavenka

There is a big difference between Venezuela and the U.S. Those who vote for Bernard Sanders have a brain, those who voted for Chavez and are left with Maduro, didn't know they were voting for a liar and a thief and a poor man that can barely sign his name.

Franklin Ratliff
Franklin Ratliff

I am contemplating the irony of independents saying they don't want to pick a side then complaining that Florida's closed primary prevents them from voting for the candidate who by choosing to not run as an independent has picked a side.

Thomas Rodgers
Thomas Rodgers

Why can't they team up and have Bernie deal with financial and trump take care of immigration reform It would make America great again!!!!!!!!! Sanders and Trump 2016

Robert Kitchens
Robert Kitchens

Let's don't get silly here Donald Trump for president

Heidi Paris
Heidi Paris

Renee Willey the Trump rallies I have watched on YouTube have Trump saying " please don't hurt them " to the security and the people in his crowds. I haven't seen him invite anyone.

Gary Crane
Gary Crane

COMPLETELY DESTROY BOTH PARTIES AND I HOPE IT DOES. WE NEED THE CULL THE HOUSE. THERES WESSELS IN THE HWN HOUSE THEY ALL GOT TO GO. LETS START ALL OVER.

Chuck DaVinci
Chuck DaVinci

The United States is not democratic socialist. We are welfare-capitalist. Big difference. Not all government spending is socialism.

Victoria Bower
Victoria Bower

I would watch Sander's any time, but I really think it is not worth his time debating the Donald bully creep.

Steve Bourdage
Steve Bourdage

The thing both parties need to remember is that what is important to the people is very important to the party. Both parties have gotten to the point where they think they are the answer to everything and that couldn't be further from the truth and for that reason, it's time for term limits. The people of this country, from both parties are sick and tired of being put on the back burner by the parties to make themselves rich and important by sucking this country dry. It is obvious what they are doing and the American people are going to take back control by putting people who love and care for this country in their place. Your right. The parties are not going to be the same after a bunch of people are kicked out the door by the American people. The only thing the partiesd will do by screwing with these elections, is prove to the people that we are no longer a free nation. That we don't have rights and that it's time to bring that to a quick stop. Move over party members, we are taking our country back.

Dan Wight
Dan Wight

Absolutely yes! Bernie is a very knowledgeable man. Bernie may not be as well up on foreign affairs as Hillary but few are as informed and experienced as she. However compared to Donald either Bernie or Hillary are rocket scientists. It might be rather uneventful if the questions had to be kept to the intelligence level of a 5th grader so Donald could understand the questions and topic's background.

Jennifer Carriger
Jennifer Carriger

Btw I'm voting for Bernie because he won't send our military to ruin.

Jennifer Carriger
Jennifer Carriger

Reaganomics killed our auto industry. Good luck buying a fridge made in America. If I were to vote in one of our past presidents it would be Theodore Roosevelt.

John Breen
John Breen

I don't think Drumpf could deal with Bernie ' s choice of words to use.

Karen Eckhoff
Karen Eckhoff

This is what I've been hoping for from the start. I wish protesters would wait until after the primary. I really want Trump to get the nomination, and then have the country unite in passionate rejection of Authoritarianism, and embrace of newer deal. I don't know if we can get that deal, but it would be healing for (most of) the nation.

Bruce Bacon
Bruce Bacon

. When the Republican Party respected labor, we had the greatest prosperity in our history without war, we had the highest take-home pay in history, we had great job security, we had increased union membership, we had the best working conditions in history. And when the Republican Party respected labor, we actually were number one in the world. There's your Democratic socialism. http://s3.amazonaws.com/dk-production/images/11537/story_image/Republican_labor.jpg?1354811978 Source: 1956 Young Republican Labor Committee 1625 Eye Street N.W. Washington, DC

Tammy Gregory Brown
Tammy Gregory Brown

Hahahaha Ya right I don't think so Go look at what this old man life politician has not done

Jill Stueve
Jill Stueve

Bring it on! Bernie will squash him on what's important, the real issues!

Jeffery Hall
Jeffery Hall

You are the type of people who are bringing down America. You have no idea about what Donald Trump stands . He is a self made man who will not allow the lobbying groups and the special interest groups to dictate what he has to do. He funding his own campaign. He will be the next president of the united States. You will see.

Matthew Francis
Matthew Francis

Build a wall, make Mexico pay for it, Do these hands look small to you?, Make America Great Again, it'll be awesome, America will be awesome, we're doing awesome things, we're gonna do awesome things. More and more of the same ol bs.

Maggie Gonzalez
Maggie Gonzalez

You can also mention Brazil,Cuba,El Salvador, they start talking about socilicim at the end communist

Matthew Francis
Matthew Francis

Maybe you should look at more appropriate countries like Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Canada...I can keep naming them. Not Venezuela, it's hard to compare the United States to Venezuela

Dixie Hooper
Dixie Hooper

This would be high entertainment. Trump would crucify him.

Raymond Halliday
Raymond Halliday

I would so enjoy watching them squirm, from both parties. They brought this on , with their corruption and crony capitalism and do nothing congress. But they know that, they still don't care, just elect their puppet, is all they all care about.

Gary Deem
Gary Deem

You poor dumb democrat bless your heart

Steve Fredrickson
Steve Fredrickson

Public tired of obstructionism both sides ... tired of the elite making policy that concentrates wealth ...

Rosalie Wing
Rosalie Wing

I certainly would. Trump would feel the bern.

Joel F Penick Jr
Joel F Penick Jr

Neither have a clear understanding of basic economics or what it means to be free. No, this debate would be thoroughly pointless.