What does the Trump juggernaut tell about American politics?

24 February 2016 7:55 pm

And so Donald Trump has had a blowout win in Nevada and declared that victory over the rest of the Republican Party is only a matter of time -- and not much time at that.

“It’s going to be an amazing two months,” said Trump,“We might not even need the two months, folks, to be honest.”

Let’s just leave aside the peculiarities of Nevada for a minute.

There have been various news reports of improprieties of caucuses running out of ballots, people voting multiple times, site supervisors failing to check IDs and several alleged Trump supporters at a caucus site at a Las Vegas high school photographed sporting white, hooded Ku Klux Klan robes.

Many volunteers manning the polling booths were also wearing Trump apparel, but apparently, that is not illegal in Nevada.

So all the focus is now on super Tuesday where we will have a better idea of who the Republican nominee will be but you’d have to say this is Trump’s to lose.

What is more interesting is that this signals the end of the US political establishment.

According to data provided by Civis Analytics, a Democratic data firm, Trump’s support is strongest among Republicans who are less affluent, less educated and less likely to turn out to vote. His very best voters are self-identified Republicans who nonetheless are registered as Democrats. It’s a coalition that’s concentrated in the South, Appalachia and the industrial North. Significantly, this is splitting the Republican Party which has offset losses among non-white and young voters by adding older and white voters, many from the South. These gains have helped the party retake the House, the Senate and many state governments. But these same voters make it harder for the party to broaden its appeal to non-white and younger people.

And yes, the result is Donald Trump. He is a creation of the Republican Party.

But what’s truly significant is the mood of rebellion in the American electorate.

Ron Faucheux from Clarus Research Group, a nonpartisan polling firm based in Washington, D.C. says there are three insurgencies going on.

The first, powered by the Tea Party, comes from the conservative ideologues loathe moderate Republicans who make deals with Democrats. They see Barack Obama’s Washington as a foreign capital, much like Moscow or Beijing. Shutting down government is not just a tactic, it’s exactly what they want.

The second rebellion is aimed at wealth inequality and corporate corruption. This revolt operates mostly within the Democratic Party, although many disaffected independents — especially younger voters –– find the cause appealing. They have pulled the Democrats to the left of where it was when Bill Clinton was president.

And finally, there’s disillusionment with the political system itself, a view shared by both the left and the right.

“Enter the bulldozer, Donald Trump. In his own inimitable way, the New York real estate developer has loosely become the champion of this third revolt. Recent polls have found that a majority of Republicans view Trump as the one presidential candidate most able to bring needed change to Washington. Whether he’s ultimately successful or not in his first electoral quest, he gives millions of voters what they crave: a nonpolitician who shares their anger and speaks their language.

“But unlike the leaders of other change movements, Trump offers himself, and not a laundry list of reform proposals, as the solution. By doing so, he’s asking for a blank check to do whatever he wants as president, and that –– along with his eyebrow-raising bombast and tough positions on immigration and trade –– scares the hell out of traditional reformers.

“In distinct ways, each of these movements reflects the loss of public confidence in our political system and, more fundamentally, the eroding legitimacy of American democracy.

“When history writes its chapter on the 2016 election, it will record how three revolts roiled our politics. In truth, this may not be the winter of our discontent; it may be the start of something that lasts much longer.”