The election wasn’t a just a referendum on eight years of Obama, but rather 16 to 25 years of interventionalist policy. Of “Forever Wars” and globalization. If you only look at it by party, you are missing half of the story.
In 14 days, it is possible that a man running for a so-called “return to normalcy” may be on his way to winning an election. Throwing aside for a moment the disputes that will inevitably arise from that, we need to understand something.
Moving back to the “way things were” — pre-Trump — is not a long-term proposition.
Like it or not, the elements that led to the rise of Donald Trump are not going to go away. They will continue to manifest themselves in the next Republican candidate. The Republican party is forever changed. The days of a Jeb Bush or John Kasich presidency are gone. Even a Nikki Haley is a long shot. The future may come in a more-politically-palatable package, but it will be Trumpist. Never-Trumpers who feel their party has gone astray are going to either have to get on the bus or find another ride.
On the flip side, let’s not lose sight of the fact an avowed socialist looked well on the way to the Democratic nomination until the party solidified in self-defense behind Joe Biden. Biden is the last firewall between anything resembling “moderation” in the party and its march toward progressivism, if — if — he can hold the line. At age 78, it's quite likely that firewall is for four years.
Should Trump emerge victorious, however, all bets are off. Say goodbye to the moderate wing of the Democratic party, which will be chewed up faster than moderate Republicans were after the Revolution of ‘94. They’ll find themselves in the same boat as the Never-Trumpers.
Considering that one of the few remaining interests both parties share is self-preservation — the two-party system — those holding out hope for a third-party option best not set those hopes up too high. So long as the debate stage and ballot access are controlled by the duopoly, you’d get better odds at a casino.
I turned in my political prognostication card after 2016. I recognized at that point politics had fundamentally changed and the old standards needed to be reassessed. Honestly, I cannot predict what will happen in the weeks to come. What I do know is the political environment we have known for the last 20 years — perhaps even 30 — has undergone a seismic shift.
For those who oppose both Trumpism and Progressivism, looking to the past is wishful thinking. That train has left the station for both parties. Those seeking a third way are either going to have to figure out how to bust the duopoly or face political irrelevance.