Piv­otal elec­tion: Is Don­ald Trump the next Gold­wa­ter?

The Southern Berks News - - OPINION - Arthur Gar­ri­son From Arthur’s Pol­icy Desk

In Amer­ica, elec­tions have con­se­quences be­cause they are sel­dom with­out sig­nif­i­cant po­lit­i­cal de­bate. This is all the more true at the pres­i­den­tial level. While all such elec­tions have been sig­nif­i­cant, some have been piv­otal. The elec­tion of 1800 dec­i­mated the Fed­er­al­ist Party but es­tab­lished that in Amer­ica the party that loses has no ap­peal to the army and the party that wins al­lows the de­part­ing party to leave with its head at­tached. The elec­tion of 1828 ush­ered in the Age of Jack­son and Jack­so­nian democ­racy. The pol­i­tics of the av­er­age man, the be­gin­ning pop­ulist pol­i­tics, and mod­ern party pol­i­tics was birthed. The elec­tions of 1860 and 1864 set the stage for a war to end the scourge of slav­ery and set Amer­ica on a road of Jim Crow and then civil rights which led to the elec­tion of a black man to be pres­i­dent. The elec­tion 1932 brought FDR and the rise of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment be­ing re­spon­si­ble for the eco­nomic wel­fare of the na­tion. His suc­cesses led to his re­elec­tion dur­ing World War II and Amer­ica emerg­ing as the lead­ing su­per­power on the planet.

Start­ing with his book in 1960 and dur­ing the elec­tion of 1964, Barry Gold­wa­ter re­de­fined the ide­o­log­i­cal prin­ci­ples of Repub­li­can Party. This ide­o­log­i­cal def­i­ni­tion was made per­ma­nent with Ronald Rea­gan’s elec­tion in 1980.

Don­ald Trump is a re­flec­tion of the dis­dain of Repub­li­can vot­ers. He has cre­ated a con­stituency of vot­ers that cuts across var­i­ous ide­o­log­i­cal lines. He has merged non-ide­o­log­i­cal, so­cial con­ser­va­tive, Lib­er­tar­ian, eco­nomic na­tion­al­ists and pro­tec­tion­ists, free mar­ket, non-in­ter­ven­tion­al­ists, lim­ited gov­ern­ment, for­eign pol­icy in­ter­ven­tion­al­ists and antigov­ern­ment vot­ers to­gether un­der abroad con­cept that Amer­ica is no longer great but it can be again un­der his busi­ness lead­er­ship style in which the goal will be get­ting things done not gov­ern­ment by po­lit­i­cal or­tho­doxy at all costs. Like Gold­wa­ter in 1964, Trump has changed the mean­ing of Repub­li­can Party. Trump has pro­posed full fund­ing of school vouch­ers and went to a black church to ask for blacks to give the party a sec­ond look since they have achieved noth­ing af­ter four decades of faith­ful sup­port of the Demo­cratic Party. He has said that he would eco­nom­i­cally pun­ish cor­po­ra­tions that move man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs to Mex­ico and then sell those goods in Amer­ica. He will build a wall to end Mex­i­can il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion but also spend bil­lions on Amer­i­can in­fra­struc­ture. He will ap­point Supreme Court jus­tices in mold of An­tonin Scalia but he does not op­pose gay mar­riage. He op­poses in­ter­na­tional trade agree­ments like NAFTA and TPP. He wants a pow­er­ful mil­i­tary but has said sup­port for NATO is not an ab­so­lute and op­poses Amer­i­can na­tion-build­ing around the world.

The rise of the can­di­dacy of Don­ald Trump is a com­bi­na­tion of An­drew Jack­son in 1828, Barry Gold­wa­ter in 1964 and Ge­orge Wal­lace in 1968. Like Jack­son, he ex­hibits an au­thor­i­tar­ian per­sona in which things will get done his way be­cause he says so. Like Gold­wa­ter, he pro­poses a com­pletely dif­fer­ent ide­o­log­i­cal def­i­ni­tion for the Repub­li­can Party. Like Wal­lace, he is a pop­ulist who has a dis­dain for the po­lit­i­cal me­dia and the es­tab­lish­ment elites of both par­ties that he says do not care about the av­er­age Amer­i­can.

The sig­nif­i­cance of the 2016 elec­tion is two-fold, one com­pleted and one to be de­cided. What has been com­pleted is that Trump has bro­ken the tra­di­tional def­i­ni­tions of the Repub­li­can Party and has of­fered a new model. Trump has found a way to merge both lib­eral and con­ser­va­tive poli­cies into one nar­ra­tive. If ac­cepted, Trump will take his place along­side Jack­son, Lin­coln, FDR and Gold­wa­ter — all of whom changed the tra­jec­tory of Amer­i­can party def­i­ni­tional pol­i­tics and the po­lit­i­cal ram­i­fi­ca­tions will put 2016 in line with the hand­ful of piv­otal elec­tions of the past.

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