Artwork courtesy of Eli Cantor: “The unity of America’s major political parties has been tested this election cycle”
The modern American political parties aren’t looking too stable nowadays. There is disorder in Washington DC, and the disorder is based in the fall of political unity. There have always been lines cut deep between the Democrats and Republicans, but recently those lines have been even more defined. The forces that tear these parties apart from one another, also divide the party internally. Both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party are in states of internal chaos, for unique and most-likely unresolvable reasons.
The Democratic Party is interesting, because it seemed to be a completely united party, until this election. The cracks in the party were exposed in an election cycle that placed a far-left Senator from the small state of Vermont centerstage against one of the biggest political figures in the United States. Hillary Clinton, former First Lady, Secretary of State, and New York Senator, has had a long and controversial experience in Washington. She has received lots of praise, and a fair amount of criticism as well. But anyone with such a massive status will be controversial. Bernie Sanders has been in Congress, first as a Congressman, then as a senator, for over 25 years. His views have been mainly on the correct side of history when looked at of a liberal perspective. He voted against invading Iraq, and has been a supporter of LGBT rights for his entire career. However, he has been on the periphery, a slight outcast. Maybe just ahead of his time. However, many Americans, especially young Americans, believe he is the superior candidate to the more centrist Clinton.
Spirit, passion, and vocal expression have torn the Democratic party apart. Although the Sanders campaign looks doomed, it cannot be understated how massive the supporting group became, especially considering he had no Super-PAC to fund him. He was able to gain millions of dollars from everyday Americans who believed in the political revolution he promised to bring. A massive part of Bernie’s strategy is showing how he is a real liberal, one that isn’t afraid to go farther than left-wing, while Hillary’s policies strayed closer to the right than the left. This lead to Clinton pushing a lot of her proposed policies farther to the left, although many people saw right through that. It’s obvious that Hillary is not exactly an idealist, and if she was willing to say that she was one, it played right into the hands of the Sanders campaign. If you looked at the views of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, before this election, they could be from totally different parties. That being said, they were in different parties. Sanders was an Independent. He ran as a Democrat to even have a chance in this election. Doesn’t it show that there could be something wrong with the current political system when you actually need to change parties to gain some support?
The splits in the Republican party have been a bit more evident. The far-right has grown almost exponentially over the past few years. While that was happening, there was a growing amount of people that would consider themselves fiscally-conservative, socially centrist. So while the center-right and the far-right were growing, what happened to the Republicans? Conventional republican candidates were shot down one by one in this election cycle. Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, both represented the general Republican party views. However John Kasich, a moderate, Ted Cruz, a Tea Party supported candidate, and Donald Trump, who has extremely far right views on many major issues, all stayed in the race longer than they did. The Republican party is being torn apart by the gap growing between the extremists and the moderates. I talked to Will Roberts ’18, the leader of the MHS Young Republicans, about the state of the youth in the Republican party. He confirmed many of my suspicions. He said that there are are a lot of young Republicans who are drawn to Trump by his “rebel attitude,” but that there are a large group of young Republicans that are far more “socially liberal” than the average Republican. He believes that the internal divide in the respective parties has never been at a higher level. Why try to fight the internal friction, when you can simply split from it?
Now the internal dissolution of the Democratic and Republican parties is by no means a rapid process. The wheels are in motion for change though, and the United States seems to be heading toward a four-party system rather than a two party system. Of course, there are currently parties in place that would represent what the future parties would advocate for. But if the next generation of politicians were going through the Green party, it’s not likely that they would gain national support or recognition. Many Americans identify as Libertarians, however the Libertarian party rarely has candidates that pick up that much steam. If new parties could be created, with the support of members of Congress, that is how actual change could be made. The parties can be set up by those working in the federal government, and the formations of the parties will trigger a shift away from the country being dominated by two parties.
The biggest winner in a four party system is the citizens of the United States. I’ve heard many Republicans and Democrats saying they will “settle” for a certain candidate. Refreshing the political landscape will allow more candidates to break through, and a more diverse set of voices that can be heard. The current status of the political parties in the United States is fractured: to encourage a clean break could be the best thing we, as citizens of the United States, can do.
By Sebastian De Lasa