A New Party System?

US Map FlagThe United State is either on its fifth party system, or its sixth, depending on who you talk to. I accept the theory that the post 1968 realignment represented a new party system. I think we 2016 may, in fact, mark the end of the sixth party system, causing us to head into a seventh party system. I think this is what drives a lot of fear in regards to Trump. No one knows what the seventh party system looks like. I can safely say there are a few factors that will go into the realignment.

Both parties are experiencing populist uprisings. Other than the possibility the DOJ removes Hillary from the race, she’s still the presumptive nominee if she can hold the Dem super delegates, which she failed to do in 2008. Even minus the super delegates, she’s still leading Bernie. I think the Republicans stand a high likelihood of going into a brokered convention. As much as I do not want Trump, I think a brokered convention is a disaster for the party. How much of a disaster depends on whether the establishment types put their own guy in the race, or whether they remain committed to rallying for a candidate who at least ran this election cycle. I think the GOP are the more vulnerable party to the uprising because, frankly, most of the people in the GOP’s tent pretty much hate each other. Like Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman will always have Paris, the Dems will always have “free” shit.

The evangelical voters have shown their cards to a large degree in this election. Cruz was the perfectly tailored candidate to capture the evangelical vote. They couldn’t have asked for more. Yet going into South Carolina, more than half of evangelical voters were behind Trump. All the religious pandering, which Trump does not do, has the effect of turning off a lot of potential GOP voters outside the Bible Belt. After Trump, can there be any justification for politicians continuing to pander this way? Probably not if we’re looking at a completely new electoral map built around the Trump coalition.

Good manufacturing jobs aren’t coming back no matter who is President. A protectionist economy would be economically devastating to implement. Even if Trump can swing a few immigration restrictions, it’s not going to amount to much. The real long term threat to working class (and even some upper middle class) jobs is automation and robotics. Self-driving cars aren’t all that far off. Think about how many people are employed in trucking and transportation and you can see why this is going to be a huge problem. Short term we’ve put too much emphasis on college for people not well suited for it, at the expense of teaching skilled trades robots will have a hard time doing (for a while at least). I don’t know what the solution will be for the long term problem. What do we do when we have a huge robot labor force and humans just don’t have to work all that hard? Some people do well when they win the lottery, but for many, it destroys their lives. That kind of micro-economy is what we’d be dealing with at large. What’s the solution? One thing I know for certain is Donald Trump does not have the answer.

One thing pundits have been talking about is the turn of the “Reagan Democrat” in the Trump coalition. It’s also been called the Archie Bunker Vote, and some of them are paleocon Buchananites previously alienated from the GOP by the Bushs. The problem with building a coalition around this voting bloc is that it’s unreliable. They only tend to show up when they are angry. I wouldn’t expect whatever coalition Trump builds to last more than two or three cycles. Nixon’s coalition didn’t last. With the sixth party system smashed to bits, whatever coalition reforms on the other side will be different, and I suspect will reflect some of the realities here.

32 thoughts on “A New Party System?”

  1. Does it really matter what it looks like when in all probability they’ll continue pushing the throttles to the stops on the express train to hell?

  2. Trade protection does not damage a nations economy. Japan, Germany and China have been protectionist. The problem is when the protected industries get crony protection and it prevents a company from failing when it should. Too much of that distorts the economy and it starts to fail.

  3. This is going to be a seismic event. Tensions within both parties have been building up over decades, and when the faults let go, well, the earth will move, and the terrain will be barely recognizable.

    1. This comment reminds me of what someone pointed out about the potential of the GOP dying and being replaced by a new party. The last time a major party died–and the GOP was born–we lost 600,000 American lives…

      1. You don’t strictly speaking need one of the parties to die to have a new party system. As the term suggests, we’ve had six major realignments in the 230 some odd years of this country. In only two of those cases did parties die completely. In every other case, the realignment has happened within the two party system.

        1. That is true, but it’s nonetheless sobering to realize that at least one of those times was *very* disruptive.

  4. Perhaps, when it all shakes down there will be a political party with a platform that I can agree with more than 50% of.

    Oh, how would it BE?!!?! LOL!

    1. Unlikely as long as the system builds multiple-faction coalitions into a 2-party system.

      (Not that you’d like alternative, which is building multiple-party coalitions into governments. At least with the US bipartisan system, you know who the coalition members are before the government forms.)

      1. My thought is after realignment it’s going to be the same a$$holes running for office so how much will actually change anyway?

  5. I think the reason Ted’s lost traction among Evangelicals is the “Lyin’ Ted” narrative. Most of the self-proclaimed “former Cruz supporters” I’ve met (mostly Evangelicals) bought the lie that Cruz is dirty, and screwed Carson. Facts don’t seem to dissuade them, they’ve made up their minds that Cruz is the establishment snake, and Drumpf is vitreous.

    1. I don’t get it, either, since one of the best ways to get Trump to call you a liar, is to say that Trump supported policy X, and then play back Trump’s own voice saying he supports policy X!

    2. The other half of it is that a lot of evangelicals figure a) it’s hard to pray when you can’t feed your family and b) 11 million more Democrat voters and prayers won’t matter.

  6. The only thing Trump and the 1/2 of the GOP he has hoodwinked will give us is Hillary.

  7. I’d like to see a multi-party system. In order to do that, however, we’d have to adopt a voting scheme that would encourage plurality, such as preference balloting (where I would say that I prefer candidate X, but if he doesn’t win, I’ll go with Y, and if he doesn’t win, I’ll go with Z).

    This isn’t an issue of trying to avoid undesirable outcomes and vote manipulation (mathematically, that’s impossible) so much as it’s an attempt to give us more choices in party platforms.

    Of course, the Two Parties won’t go for it: they like having their power, and any attempts to introduce new parties is a challenge to that power!

    1. Do you want a Knesset? Because that’s how you get a Knesset.

      (A famously multifarious parliament)

    2. I used to hang out with some (big L) Libertarians, and this whole preference balloting thing seemed to be all they could talk about.

      They just got mad when I asked “oh yea? How you gonna get the Dems and Repubs to agree to THAT?” and didn’t want to talk about it anymore (until the next time they brought it up).

      1. When I looked at the Utah Libertarian Platform, I remember this being a rather prominent plank too. I really like the idea myself! But aye, that’s the rub: to get it, we have to get the Democrats and the Republicans to agree to it as well.

  8. What do we do when we have a huge robot labor force and humans just don’t have to work all that hard?


    (I’m actually serious – that’s an economy that’s effectively post-labor-scarcity, and with a few tweaks for “finally getting fusion working” and the like comes close to being post-scarcity on raw inputs.

    Eventually you have at least something like a “minimum income” supported by robot labor, if not full-on communism at the economic level, where nobody owns the means of production personally, because robots are making everything anyone wants for free.

    See e.g. the Banks Culture books.

    As a dedicated anti-Communist and libertarian I don’t have much problem with the sort of “socialism” or “communism” based on “robots do all the work and anyone who wants more than the generous robot-made minimum income does work that other people will pay for that robots can’t, like services or entertainment”; the problem is Communism in a human labor economy and Communism as a government trying to force that to work; it’s the latter that necessarily and automatically destroys liberty and enslaves the populace.

    The former? Need not do the former and axiomatically doesn’t do the latter, eh?

    Because like you say, the basic alternative is “everyone being incredibly poor and a giant revolution that destroys the robots and makes everyone work for a living again”.

    Unlimited free robot labor takes most of the problems out of socialism/communism, economically: you don’t have to confiscate anyone’s labor product, because it’s all robot labor anyway.)

    1. What automation does is 2 things: reduce wages for jobs that can be automated, and free up labor to do other things that can’t be automated so easily. There’s always something for people to do, the solution is to get out of the way and let the marketplace find it. Anything requiring innovation and creativity is pretty much impossible to automate, and this will probably always be the case. And there are limits to machines’ ability to self-diagnose problems. And there still has to be quality control, maintenance, and troubleshooting on the machines themselves. Our job is to be smart, stay flexible, and stay ahead of it. Be better than a machine at something worth doing, and then do that.

    2. If you want to drag out your inner geek, it’s how star trek works. They basically have unlimited energy and a replicator to make whatever they need, so everyone can fart around and just do what they want without needing to actually draw a paycheck….

    3. The funny thing is, I have no problem with “From each, according to his ability; to each, according to his need”. When you leave people to be free to pursue their needs and wants, they are generally good at figuring out their abilities, and then using them to satisfy their needs and wants.

      This is why the Free Market has done more to accomplish the goals of Communism that Communist societies ever did.

      Indeed, when you have bureaucrats deciding what the needs and wants of the people are, and what their abilities are, you always end up with empty shelves and blood and horror.

    4. Effectively 20% or so of the U. S. population has pure communism in a robot economy already.

      For those on welfare/disability/all the rest of it, the productive people in the system may as well be robots.

  9. Don’t look now but robot labor is not free. Big bucks go into them and the techs that maintain them. Cheaper, yes. free, no.

    1. Yeah, but you need a lot less techs than you did assembly-line workers.

        1. Probably more expensive, in fact – might even be more expensive enough to drive up the average wage. Doesn’t help the guys who are off the factory floor.

          Not that I think “government” can do much of anything good in this case, short of getting out of the way.

    2. Except what happens when you have robots building and maintaining robots? Yes, there’s a distinct possibility that could happen.

      Couple that with viable fusion power and the world becomes a very different place. A big chunk of the conflicts in human history revolve around resources of some form or another. If resources are no longer scarce, it really is the world turned upside down…

      1. Resources are always scarce. There is never enough for all purposes, which is why free market pricing is necessary to prioritize those purposes.

        But what happens when the necessary resources, food, housing, heat, water, clothing are no longer scarce. In such a case, all could live well, but not all can live in Malibu or Manhattan. All can’t drive a Lexus, but perhaps only a basic transportation.

        See, we are in many places there now, and what we have is envy and the desire to take, non-survival goods and wealth in the name of equality, even when needed subsistence is satisfied.

  10. Sir, Nice little essay. Thanks.

    “Like Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman will always have Paris, the Dems will always have “free” shit.”

    That’s funny.

    “A protectionist economy would be economically devastating to implement.”

    Not if you throw the Federal Register on a bonfire. Mere months, maybe a year before BOOOOOOM, the largest economic expansion in the history of the planet would be off like a rocket. Yeah, it would hurt, a lot of people, a lot, at first. People will even, likely die, at first. This of course will never happen. Pity, all government seeks more control, always.

    “The real long term threat to working class (and even some upper middle class) jobs is automation and robotics.”

    Disagree, The greatest threat we face is from government. Robots are only a threat because almost all avenues to prosperity have been cut off.

    Oh and .gov can’t freakin’ wait to crush the trucking industry. Bunch of gun toting, good ‘ol boys. yeah, they will do truckers what they’ve done to the coal industry and relish in it.

  11. False piety served by politicians is certainly offensive to the non-religious. What I do not understand is how religious people can stomach it. Personally, Cruz and his ilk strike me just the same as if Johnson and Johnson were trying to sell me Jesus Wax for a Heavenly Floor Shine. Yuck. I am quite religious myself, and this brand of politics has always struck me as transparent, insincere, and near-blasphemous (if you’re a believer).

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