Establishment and mainstream voters in both major political
parties are now going to through “periods of adjustment” as
the realities of the 2016 presidential campaign so far sinks in.
A number of prominent Democrats and Republicans, and not
a few not-so-prominent party activists are blowing off
considerable steam by proclaiming they will, under no
circumstances, vote for their party nominees (assuming. of
course, the near certainty now that they will be Hillary
Clinton and Donald Trump).
This is early May. I suggest that many, if not most, of these
“alienated” party members might have something different
to say next autumn and on election day, 2016.
Some, to be sure, will sit home and a few might even vote for
the other party’s nominee, but not only history instructs us
to voter behavior after such a period of adjustment. Common
sense and laws of political gravity also weigh in heavily, and
these are informed by practical matters, such as control of the
two houses of Congress, appointments to the Supreme Court,
the future of Obamacare, and foreign policy in a world becoming
more perilous each new day. Democrats and Republicans see
these matters in VERY different ways in 2016.
One of the many consequences of the primary/caucus season
these past few months is the realization that the “populist”
mutinies in both parties were not superficial, and that the real
ideological and generational components of both parties are
probably irreversibly changed. Bernie Sanders has apparently
not won the Democratic Party nomination, but the liberal party
now has another and new base. Donald Trump might not win in
November, but the Republican Party will now have a new
establishment in any event.
Mr. Trump is now showing off another side to his political
personality, including a generous and reassuring tone he has
not displayed hitherto. Will this continue? Now faced with the
possibility that he could become president of the United States,
it will be quite insructive to see how much self-discipline and
political intelligence he can demonstrate in attempting to build
his coalition in the general election.
On the Democratic side, the next few months could become
more complicated. Mr. Sanders refuses to concede, and in fact,
is being encouraged recently in primaries and by donors.
He contends he will compete actively up to, and including in,
the national Philadelphia convention. He seems to be in a
position to extract concessions from Mrs. Clinton and her
establishment wing of the liberal party, and that could become
problematic in the Democratic appeal to voters in November
when a large number of non-affiliated, more centrist and
moderate voters must make their choice for president.
I contend that the outcome of the election next November is
not credibly predictable in May. A “disruption” of the traditional
political process has occurred, and one surprise still follows
A smart political figure in both parties probably keeps his or her
own counsel, and thinks long and hard before making any rash
pronouncements they might later have to take back or regret.
Copyright (c) 2016 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.