Whichever candidate wins the presidency on November 8 (this issue went to press on November 2), the American political establishment—the Democratic and Republican parties combined as America Consolidated—will have decisively lost the presidential elections. That is the meaning of the director of the FBI’s public decision to reconsider the agency’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email practices during her years as secretary of state.
If Donald Trump has not actually destroyed the GOP single-handedly, he has probably set it on the path to self-destruction, while Mrs. Clinton has dragged the Democratic Party back to the unsavory, unscrupulous era of Tammany Hall and Boss Tweed. Actually, Mrs. Clinton has been running as the candidate of two parties, the all-too-visible Democratic one and the invisible Plutocratic Party headquartered on Wall Street. The Republicans, who have interests of their own on the Street, pretended not to notice, but a certain senator from Vermont did, and said so.
Bernie Sanders is not, of course, a Democrat at all, but an independent, albeit one who has usually voted with the Democrats in the Senate. That fact has been paid insufficient attention by most people, notably Democrats who have an interest in promoting the fiction that the Clinton-Sanders fight was an intraparty conflict, with Sanders representing their party’s left wing. Yet Sanders is an unrepentantly old-fashioned socialist, who would certainly have enlisted in a Socialist Party on his entry into politics had the choice existed for him.
Consequently, there are not two but four political parties in the United States today: a Republican Party, a Trump Party, a Democratic Party, and a Socialist-Democratic Party. Two of these parties belong to the American establishment, two to the establishment’s loyal opposition—loyal, that is, to the American antiestablishment.
Probably the ladies and gentlemen of the American media have never really thought Donald Trump could be elected president of the United States, once the general election commenced anyway. They are far too sure of the power of the political establishment, of their own power to mold national opinion, of the intellectual and emotional power of the regnant liberal philosophy in this country, and of its unquestionable rightness. While at certain moments their anti-Trump hysteria may have been real, the rest of the time it was likely feigned, or at least partly so. To them, the threat of Trump has been less directly political than ideological, an unprecedented and unforgivable act of lèse-majesté against the representational Sun King sitting in Versailles-on-the-Potomac. All this year the media have been reporting on the sinister activities of “far right,” “extreme right,” “populist,” and “xenophobic” parties in Europe in terms that nevertheless suggest that their stories are more cautionary tales for Americans than a prophecy of things to come in this country. The implicit message has been, “This can’t happen here, but just see what’s going on Over There in the Bad Old World, and take heed.” But now it is happening here.
“It” is not soldiers and police on the border, goose-stepping in the streets, and attacks on migrant and refugee houses. It is the foundation now being laid for a multiparty system that is probably the prerequisite for the establishment of a truly conservative and lasting party in the United States. The political right is far more advanced in Europe than it is here, chiefly because our two-party system stifles dissent against the reigning orthodoxy by preventing another party or parties from getting a foot in the door and adopting the strategy of divide-and-conquer that is working for UKIP in Britain, the National Front in France, Alternative for Germany, and populist parties in Scandinavia—countries whose political establishments have been as thoroughly exposed and discredited as our own. Historically, Americans have credited their two-party system with maintaining political stability and continuity, only to end up deploring “gridlock” between the Republicans and the Democrats in Washington. Were Pat Buchanan’s and Ross Perot’s Reform Party alive and significantly represented in Congress today, the American right would exercise real political power and influence in a political system a great deal more vital than the present one, which has sat far, far too long. William A. Rusher understood all of this decades ago.
The nomination of Donald Trump for president last summer was a dangerous political gamble that nevertheless will be shown to have paid off, whether Mr. Trump wins the election or not. No doubt that gamble owed less to political courage on the part of his supporters than to the conviction that, after all, they had nothing to lose. They were right. Now that the election is over, they must realize that they have, indeed, everything to win.
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