The Republican Party started about 1856 when several groups, including the Free Soil Party, The “Know Nothings” and the last vestiges of The Wig Party merged. Though they ran a candidate in 1856, a gentleman with the nickname of The Pathfinder, it wasn’t until the victory of Abraham Lincoln in 1860 that the party really came unto its own.
The Republican Party has proven to be surprisingly popular and resilient over the decades, but it appears one Donald J. Trump has killed it. I say this because while Republicans seem likely to grow in power due to the rot the Republic currently suffers, the GOP that I have known my entire life is effectively over. The Republican Party now has become an enormous fetid, rock hard diamond of ideological fecal material lodged in the sewers of the American government.
Because of the likes of faux populist intellectual Steve Bannon, the long-term trend of the party is grow in power while at the same time becoming a parody of itself. It is possible, not probable, that Trump himself on a personal level may smash the Republican Party to bits in 2020 simply because the divide between the Trump-loving base and the Republican Establishment will grow so enormous that the party will split in two like a sinking Titanic.
Unfortunately, the same forces threatening the Republican Party are also threatening the Democratic Party. Republicans have become so obsessed with power and winning at any cost that they are inflicting unprecedented pressure on the center-Left. The Progressive base of the Democratic Party may split from the centrist Democratic Establishment and we’ll have not two, or three, but four parties vying for the presidency in 2020. This, of course, opens an enormous hole for Trump to plow through and it’s very possible that he will sail through the Electoral College to a second term.
Should that happen, which it may not, we will possibly see the greatest political turbulence in American political life since the Civil War. And, remember, all of this is happening in the context of a gradual shift from a constitutional democratic republic to a simple autocracy bound only the populace’s unwillingness to admit this new harsh reality. And that doesn’t even begin to address the efforts of some on the Far Right to force through a Constitutional Convention through state legislatures.
But back to parties.
What might we see happen under this scenario? Depending on the self-evident mercurial personality of Donald Trump, Trump may either inherit the Republican Party brand simply because he controls the base with a near Messianic power, or he may out of sheer spite ditch the name and start a Trump branded party. Meanwhile, the Establishment wings of both the Democratic and Republican parties may merge, leaving a rump Progressive Party to fend for itself.
It’s possible that 20 years from now, there will again be two parties — the Trump Party and the ReDem. I can’t see a Progressive Party lasting very long for various reasons.
Remember, put all of this in context. In the next five to ten years, technology is likely to dramatically reshape the American economy in ways we can just barely fathom currently. So, it’s possible that Trump Party will grow in power accordingly and we’ll swerve into a Theocratic Fascist state out of default, if nothing else.
Regardless, it’s unlikely the current two party system is going to stay very stable in the coming years.
Shelton Bumgarner is a writer and photographer living in Richmond, Va.