Analysis by Reporting San Diego
July 21, 2016 (San Diego) Just like the Democrats, the Republican Party has undergone a major transformation. One that is not over. This is why the party remains somewhat divided. It will emerge still that way from the nominating convention in Cleveland. The old hyper conservatives are struggling to keep power, while a new brand of conservative under Donald Trump is rising.
We are still wondering what the changes will be, but in the end there are two right wing parties. In the reality of a political system this is not sustainable long term. There is an opening on the left flank, and perhaps the New Republicans will end up occupying that place. What has happened though is that the culture wars are over, meaning that for many republicans in the party base these issues do not matter as much as they used to. With those over, we will see a rear guard action from some extreme conservatives to revive them. This is where Trd Cruz stands. And why his speech had that appeal to vote for true conservatives.
This realignment is coming though mainly economic policy.
Free Trade has become an issue of concern. Free Trade agreements were at the heart of economic policy for the Republican party elite. They still want to pass and ratify the Transpacific Partnership (TPP). These agreements have hurt working class Americans who find themselves in a new globalized world where they have to compete for workers making 50 cents a day.
This has destroyed economic security for the middle and working class. With the stagnation of wages and benefits, as well as the rising cost of education, many workers feel under increased economic pressure. Their future is all but assured. Incidentally many Democrats defend these policies since they raise the standard of living world wide, bringing an end to extreme poverty. With that American workers feel abandoned.
Trump is promising to bring good paying jobs back, either by the renegotiation of free trade agreements, or outright end of them. He preaches economic nationalism. In fact he has hinted at tariffs as well. In contrast to Democrats, who’s establishment preaches globalism. Trump’s take over of the party matters. If he wins in November, and we are not discounting that. In fact, we have said in the past he can, will mean a major party realignment as well. The party is still in the middle of an internal fight. With the democrats it seems to be over.
Foreign policy is the place where the realignment is the most obvious.
The place where it is glaring is not with trade. The language used by Trump is classic populist speech, but rather with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). He is talking of a review and having alliance members pay more for their own defense. This is a very large change. This would mean a full realignment of both military and to a point economic alliances. It is a rejection of the globalism of the post war period.
Republicans have always defended this. Or at least for as long as we all remember. Though, this is not a rejection of either a strong military or the role of the United States in the world. There is another major point. In an interview with the New York Times, he seemed to reject traditional American Exceptionalism. This has been at the heart of American myth making since at least the early part of the 19th century. Any politician, especially a newly minted party nominee, hinting at not believing in this is a big deal.
The new Republicans are very different from the traditional conservative base. They are a party looking for a new voice. Except for the extreme partisans on both sides, this deserves the full attention of the American people.
What is true is that both parties have undergone deep, even seismic changes. While Trump has voiced some items of concern, and that is the racist speech, the fact is that his take over means the party is emerging as a very different party than the party of Romney. It is clear that now we are seeing Democrats speaking of globalism and alliances, and a fracture in the Republican Party regarding this point. Mike Pence, the Vice Presidential pick, gave the traditional speech, of a strong military, alliances and the US as the city on the hill. Trump gave his interview hinting strongly he does not believe in a lot of this.
2016 is the year of the end of the two parties we knew. What is emerging is a new political system. One where Republicans might defend entitlement programs of the New Deal, while Democrats seem to be ready to all but reject those programs. At the same time we are also seeing the end of globalism for Republicans, and the full embrace of this by Democrats.
We are witnessing the emergence of the 7th political system. We might still see a national party go away, but only time will tell. This moment though marks the end of the culture wars and the beginning of uncertainty as both parties become something new, and the voters still are getting used to it. What is true, is that what emerges will be full of surprises. The Party of Barry Goldwater is fading into the past.