More often than not, political pundits and commentators are quick to describe any given presidential election season as being somehow “game-changing” or “paradigm-shifting.” Yet, the forces and figures at work in the presidential election of 2016 have already reshaped the American political landscape in ways that are irreversible, much more so than in previous election seasons. In many ways, this election has already defied conventional political norms in the United States, and nowhere has this been more apparent than in the weakening of the two major parties in America. The presidential election of 2016 may test the limits of tolerance in the United States, but it has already tested the limits of American politicians’ loyalty to the two parties.
The 2016 presidential election season has been filled with surprises, many of them unpleasant. Countless pundits and commentators have declared their shock at real estate mogul Donald Trump’s sudden rise to the Republican nomination, even in the midst of what used to be the most crowded partisan primary in recent memory. However, even as one can hardly escape coverage of Trump’s candidacy, the endless and impassioned attempts to interpret the so-called “Trump phenomenon” can actually distract us from recognizing what was probably an equally surprising development of the 2016 race: the severe (and, in one case, politically fatal) difficulties experienced by Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush. In fact, as Donald Trump continues to bring the Republican rank-and-file even closer within his orbit, the failure of the latter might prove to be instructive for understanding the potential threat to the former.
Winston Churchill famously said that “the best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.” He was wrong. The best argument against democracy is probably a five-minute conversation with Donald Trump, a newly-announced candidate for the Republican nomination for the presidency of the United States.
Even though the subtitle of the Realpolitik blog reads “news with views,” I usually tend to reserve personal commentary for the political prospects of various leaders in America, and I do my best to avoid making value judgments about the subjects of my analysis and I try to keep from sharing my personal opinion about many of the controversial issues with which the people about whom I write deal. However, when it comes to today’s news about the decision by South Carolina’s governor, Nikki Haley, to use her constitutional powers to call the state legislature into session to consider the question of the Confederate flag on display on the capitol grounds, I’m going to leave Realpolitik’s typical, well, realpolitik approach aside.