Opinion

Will the Democrats go the Way of the Whigs?

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Posted: Feb 05, 2020 12:19 PM
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Will the Democrats go the Way of the Whigs?

Source: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Believe it or not, the Republican and Democratic Parties have not and probably will not be around forever. Once upon a time, American politics included now-defunct parties such as the Whigs and the ironically-named Democratic Republicans. As the old saying goes, the more things change the more they stay the same.

The modern Republican and Democratic Parties have been around (in the current iterations) for a long time, historically speaking. The Republican Party was founded in 1854. The Democratic Party can trace its origins to roughly 1828. Both have changed significantly over time. As they say: adapt or die.

In 2016, the Republican Party, aka the Grand Old Party (GOP), underwent a rather significant internal transformation. In short, the establishment lost control and voters overwhelmingly supported an outsider/disruptor/businessman named Donald Trump as the new face of the party. The party’s ideology also shifted from Big Business/crony capitalism to a more populist tinge.

In 2016, the Democratic Party was also in the midst of a major realignment. Although party big wigs supported the establishment candidate in the form of Hillary Clinton, the grassroots of the party were decidedly with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Although Sanders is far from an outsider (he has been in politics virtually his entire adult life) he surely represented a 90 degree turn from the party norm. Like Trump in many ways, Bernie’s message (albeit a misguided socialist one) resonated with many of those on the Left.

However, unlike the GOP, in 2016, the Democratic Party played it safe with Hillary as their nominee. We all know how that turned out. Hallelujah for the Electoral College.

Fast-forward to 2020. The Democratic Party is in disarray again. The party is actually on the verge of an all-out civil war between those on the extreme Left (who support Bernie for the most part) and those who claim to be moderates (who support a wide range of candidates).

As it stands, and the debacle in the recent Iowa Caucuses certainly doesn’t help, the Democratic Party is stuck between a rock and a hard place. Does the party accept the Bernie Bros' hostile takeover and let the electoral chips fall where they may? Or does the party shun Bernie and his loyal Bros in favor of a so-called moderate candidate, such as Michael Bloomberg or Joe Biden.

Regardless of the outcome at the Democrats’ convention in Milwaukee this summer, it sure seems that a whole bunch of Democratic voters will not be too pleased with the result. Either way, the party will be split.

Theoretically, this could lead to a very interesting series of events. Will the party splinter into a pseudo-socialist party headed by the Bernie Bros? Will those who despise Bernie reclaim the remnants of the Democratic Party as the moderate, blue-collar workers’ party? We shall see, only time will tell.

However, one thing almost remains certain. As 2016 demonstrated, voters from both parties are more than fed-up with the status quo. Americans on the Left and Right are sick and tired of the Swamp making a total mess of things, while ensuring that their needs and wants are more than taken care of. Hard-working Americans (on both sides of the political aisle) are frustrated with an endless array of broken promises from lifelong politicians.

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Donald Trump burst onto the political scene and wrestled control of the GOP by speaking common sense to Americans who were exhausted with establishment elites and their policies that overwhelmingly benefitted the Chamber of Commerce on K Street while sticking it to Main Street. In some ways, Bernie is following a similar script. Although Bernie’s policies are the antithesis of Trump’s populist/free-market ideas, he is tugging on similar strings of discontent.

The big question is: Will the Democratic Party’s corporate base and big donors allow Bernie to have his time in the sun? Or will they repeat the mistake of 2016 and force another establishment-picked candidate down their voters’ throats? If the latter takes place, 2020 might be the swan song of the Democratic Party.