What Happens When the Elites Collapse in Both Parties
If there’s one quote that captures what the 2016 election is really all about, at least on the Republican side of things, it’s what one Trump supporter in Texas said about why the Donald has won him over.
Flagged down while watching a Ted Cruz rally, a voter identified as Mr. Voor said that he “just kind of want[s] to watch the establishment burn.” He then added, “What’s the point of being conservative anymore? It’s a failing ideology.”
Now, for people who’ve spent the past few decades gobbling up the media’s red state-blue state/conservative-liberal dichotomy, it’s probably pretty shocking to hear a supporter of the Republican front-runner all but give up on the conservative movement.
But for anyone who’s actually paid attention to what’s been going on this election cycle, it should make total sense.
Donald Trump is now the overwhelming favorite to win the Republican nomination not because he’s the purest conservative around -- he’s obviously not -- but because he’s sticking it to the man: the big economic and political interests who control the Republican Party.
You see, for years now, the Republican Party has been running a scam on its mostly white racist base.
By giving lip-service to old-timey racism anti-immigrant xenophobia, it’s tricked that base into supporting candidates who really care about just one thing: pushing through economic policies that help out the billionaires and corporations that fund the Republican Party scam.
At the same time, Republicans have also used dog-whistle racism to make their billionaire-friendly economic policies more attractive to white bigots.
Reagan advisor Lee Atwater described this process in pretty blunt language back in the 1980s.
This strategy of suckering poor white people into voting for Republican politicians by appealing to their bigotry and fear was successful for a long, long time.
It helped put Reagan and both Bushes in the White House, and it’s one of the reasons why the GOP controls both houses of Congress.
But running this scam always came with some big risks.
Sooner or later the scared and bigoted white people who vote Republican were going to realize that the people they were voting into office didn’t give a damn about them and only cared about the billionaires and big corporations who wrote their campaign checks.
Sooner or later the mask was going to fall off and the base was going to revolt against the elites.
Well, sooner or later is now, and with Trump, the chickens are finally coming home to roost for the GOP.
Trump is channeling the racism that’s always motivated the Republican base, but he’s also railing against the economic elites that have used the conservative “movement” to enrich themselves.
Republican voters are sick and tired of getting screwed, and they want a straight-shooter who will take the establishment and burn it to the ground.
Unfortunately for Republicans, there is no easy answer to the Trump “problem,” if you even want to call it that.
It’s the logical result of how they’ve run their party for the past 36 years, and the only way out is chaos.
This, of course, is great news for Democrats.
But they shouldn’t starting popping the champagne bottles just yet.
And that’s because the very same forces shaping the Republican presidential race are also playing a huge role in the Democratic one.
Just like the Republican base, the Democratic base is sick and tired of the elites running the show.
It wants the party of FDR back and it’s rallying behind Bernie Sanders to make sure this happens.
There’s one huge difference, though, between the populist revolt that’s going on in the Democratic Party and the one that’s going on in the Republican Party: the Democratic revolt isn’t going to result in chaos.
Unlike the Republican Party - which is an incoherent mix of billionaires who want to bleed the people dry plus low- and middle-income people who hate minorities but have been tricked into voting Republican - the Democratic Party is an actual and natural coalition.
It cuts across all racial and class lines because it brings together everyone who wants a more progressive future.
It’s a coalition of values, not interests, which means that the fight within the Democratic Party right now - because it’s ultimately a fight about values - should, if anything, strengthen the Democratic Party in the long run.
It should reinforce what always made people want to become Democrats in the first place.
That is, if the DNC plays its cards right.
Although there’s a big opportunity here to really make the Democratic Party a 50 state party, the worst thing the DNC could do is ignore the populism that’s inspiring so many voters this election cycle.
Republican officials ignored and laughed at and exploited the populist wave in their at their own peril, and while Democrats don’t face quite the same risks, flat-out ignoring the progressive populist wave could mean the difference between Democratic control for decades to come or years of Republicans in charge in Washington.
The bottom line is simple - when the Republican Party fractures, there's chaos; when the Democratic Party fractures, there's a progressive movement.
The choice for Democrats is clear - embrace the progressive movement or end up like the Republicans.
Let’s hope the DNC makes the right choice.