John Boehner, former House speaker:
“There is no Republican Party. There’s a Trump party.
The Republican Party is kind of taking a nap somewhere.”
Josh Gottheimer, House Representative (NJ):
“Bernie seems to have declared war of the Democratic Party
and it’s caused panic in the House ranks.”
There are many ways in which to organize and categorize American history. One way is based on the political party structure. For example, the First Party System. This period encompassed the beginning of the operation of the country under the Constitution with a duly elected president and lasted until 1824. It consisted of the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists. It was the time of the Virginia dynasty and the Adams. Democrat Thomas Jefferson is not held in such high repute anymore by the party that bears the same name party as his party.
The Second Party System lasted from 1828 until 1854. It consisted of the Democrats and a new party, the Whigs which arose when the Anti-Federalists collapsed. Prominent Senators like Henry Clay and Daniel Webster strode the political arena like giants but they never became president no matter how often they tried. Democrat Andrew Jackson defined the Jacksonian Age but he is not held in such high repute anymore by the party that bears the same name as his party.
The Third Party System lasted from 1854 to the 1890s. It consisted once again of the Democratic Party and a new party, the Republicans which arose when the Whigs collapsed and various small parties never succeeded as independent parties. This period encompassed the end of the ante bellum way of life and the growth of the industrial order. Republican Abraham Lincoln initially defined the period but by the end it was the time William McKinley. Lincoln is not held in such high repute anymore by the party that bears the same name as his party.
The Fourth Party System lasted from the 1896 election of McKinley to the 1932 defeat of Hoover. It was dominated by the Republican Party when it was united. The Democratic Party was still around by that name. Teddy Roosevelt was the larger than life figure who strode across the American and some non-American landscapes. It was a time when America began to develop a global presence. Teddy Roosevelt is not held in such high repute anymore by the party that bears the same name as his party.
The Fifth Party System or New Deal Coalition lasted from 1932 until 1968. The Democrats dominated this period. That dominance began to fade when Republicans deployed the Southern Strategy after the passage of various Civil Rights legislation. Franklin Roosevelt was the defining figure during this period. He is not so much disrespected as previous defining figures were as simply ignored. His name comes up at Democratic events today about as rarely as Lincoln is invoked at Republican ones.
The Fifth Party System has been replaced by a less well-defined era. At first during the 1960s, the battle was fought primarily for the allegiance of southern white people. This led to a period of Republican domination of the presidency until the era of Baby Boom presidencies began in 1992. Since then, the Republican presidential candidates have not won a plurality or majority of the popular vote save for the post 9/11 election.
I thought this era would end with the 2012 election. My expectation was that the Republican Party would divide into two parties, a Republican Party and a Tea Party. Suffice it to say, I was wrong. But I can say that 2008 Republican presidential candidate John McCain is a person not held in high repute anymore by the party that bears the same name as his party. Similarly for the 2012 candidate Mitt Romney who is now the lone actual Republican left in the Senate. Instead of the Republican Party dividing into its two parts, it was redefined as the Trumpican Party. Rick Wilson, Richard Conway, John Kasich, and Bill Weld can struggle all they want to regain control of the Republican Party but it is not going to happen. The early stage of the battle for the 2024 Trumpican nomination already has begun (based on the assumption that the candidate will not be Trump himself!).
At present Lincoln Republicans have no political party. Neither do admirers of Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, or even the Bushes. So how will they vote? What will they do now that the Republican Party despises them?
My prediction for the Democrats also has proven false. I thought after the Republican Party split the Democrats would follow suit with a Politically-Corrected People Party spinoff. I did not anticipate a possible socialist takeover of the party. At this point it is too early to tell what will happen on Super Tuesday, the convention, or the election. However it does seem likely that the Democratic Party is headed for its own moment of truth where it will either split or be taken over by an outsider as the Republican Party was by a longtime Democrat and Clinton supporter.
Back on September 9, 2016, I wrote a blog The Presidential Election of 1824: Lessons for Today about a session at the annual conference of the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic (SHEAR) entitled
1824 RECONSIDERED: A ROUNDTABLE ON DONALD RATCLIFFE, THE ONE-PARTY PRESIDENTIAL CONTEST: ADAMS, JACKSON AND 1824’S FIVE-HORSE RACE.
The session was about a new book on the most chaotic presidential election since 1800. It was a race of multiple candidates, accusations of a rigged election where the real winner (Jackson) was denied victory due to the machinations of the aforementioned Henry Putin, I mean, Clay. Jackson leveraged the presumed skullduggery into a big victory the next time around in 1828 thereby launching the Second Party System.
In the Q&A session, I asked, somewhat tongue in cheek what SHEAR’s plans
were to commemorate the bi-centennial of the election of 1824 given the disarray/collapse of the current two-party system….Maybe for the bicentennial of 1824 we should have a presidential election where candidates are entitled to their own facts and a public that doesn’t know better or how to think. Come to think of it, why wait?
Now, almost four years later, I wonder why wait until 2024? In a Socialist-Trumpican showdown, both Democrats and Republicans will have nowhere to go. It is quite possible that the candidates of the two major parties will be people who are not Democrat or Republican. The consequences of such an election are mindboggling. As William Owen, D.N.C. member (TN) said:
This election is about saving the American experiment as republic. It’s also about saving the world. This is not an ordinary election.
As we see from the climate change and coronavirus hoaxes, the eyes of the world are still upon us even though the Trumpican and Socialist parties have abandoned our city-on-hill-last-best-hope-of-earth destiny. Perhaps one day, there will be a new political party that embraces it.