As the election season gets closer to being over, and as the GOP convention finished its final night, I’m left watching the disdain for Trump come from all sides. There really isn’t a single group left (other than “Trump supporters”) that isn’t upset with him. In some ways, it almost seems like the makings of a third party, but probably not.
I haven’t been alive when a major political party emerged or folded, but it’s easy for me to imagine that a new political party would be hated by members of at least one the existing major parties. Democrats hated the Green Party’s Ralph Nader because they saw him as the spoiler in 2000. Republicans felt the same way about Ross Perot, both when he ran independent of any party and when he formalized his candidacy as the nominee of the Reform party.
But here’s the thing about the potential for the new Trump party: it’s really only different from the GOP in demeanor. His policies are largely in line with classic republicans, with the exception of tariffs. He’s hawkish, wants strong limits on immigration, focused more on preventing voter fraud than on increasing access to voting, wants lower taxes, wants deregulation, anti-abortion. He checks pretty much all of the republican boxes. But what differentiates his brand from the others is the total disregard for civility. His version of the GOP is the attack-dog version. He lashes out at those who disagree with him, and he does so in personal attacks. He does things that sure seem to have the only goal of making others upset with him. He creates controversy where it’s not needed and wouldn’t be otherwise. He attacks the institutions that have served the country well for more than 200 years.
So we basically are left with the potential for three parties: democrats, civil republicans, and attack-dog republicans. The third is unfortunately very appealing to lots of Americans. I suspect they would like a democrat who was as mean and nasty also, but things didn’t work out that way. The split in the GOP is right there for us to watch.
At this point, the Lincoln Project is leading the way, but they aren’t the only ones. Republican Voters against Trump is working hard to defeat Trump. Forbes has a recent line-up of republican endorsements for Biden and republicans who won’t go as far as supporting Biden, but have said they will not vote for Trump. This includes a former sitting republican president, George W. Bush. It’s worth comparing this with the list of endorsements for Romney against Obama in 2012. The list notably has two, only two, democrats who endorsed Romney.
Time will tell where this all goes, but it seems likely to me that the emergence of a new major political party could look a lot like this. I suspect that there needs to be more of a difference between parties than demeanor, but maybe not. I also remain unsure that there’s another candidate who can pull it off like Trump does, but maybe there will be.
Time will tell, but one of the parties is going to have to rename themselves. That will be fun to watch.