Donald Trump and political parties

Against all predictions, Donald Trump will soon be the official Republican candidate for president of the United States. The President of the United States functions as head of state and head of government. A President Trump in this powerful office frightens many, including the editors of the Financial Times. Today’s FT contains a strong ‘non-endorsement’ of Trump. Below are highlights from the editorial.

Mr Trump’s personality, intellect and experience make him radically unqualified for the presidency of the United States. ….

It is indeed shocking that the party of Abraham Lincoln and Dwight Eisenhower is about to nominate a shallow narcissistic demagogue such as Mr Trump. But, in some respects, the Republicans have sown the seeds of their own downfall — by flirting for decades with nativist themes and radical anti-government rhetoric that has too often shaded into conspiracy theories about everything from gun control to the “liberal media”. ….

…. Mr Trump’s antitrade stance and isolationism carry disturbing echoes of the 1930s.

Despite all this, … [h]is defenders in the American establishment are already advancing the idea that much of Mr Trump’s campaign rhetoric is an act. They argue that the “real” Donald Trump is a shrewd businessman who would govern pragmatically once he was in the Oval Office. They also suggest that Mr Trump will move to the middle-ground and show a more moderate face to the world once he has definitively secured the nomination of the Republican party.

Yet Mr Trump cannot simply erase the memory of the campaign to date. The past few months have already demonstrated that he would be a disastrous choice for the most powerful political office in the world.

Trump and the future of American leadership“, Financial Times editorial, 5 May 2016 (metered paywall).

Regardless of whether Mr Trump wins (with help from supporters of Bernie Sanders) or not, it is clear that the Republican party will never be the same. I think it is time for the US to move to a three-party system. The Republican party could become the Tea Party in everything but name: a coalition of social conservatives and libertarians. The Democrats since Bill Clinton have embraced conservative policies, similar to those of the Eisenhower and Reagan Republicans of old. What is missing is a party on the left, one that would attract supporters of Bernie Sanders. This new party would be similar to the Labour party in the UK or Canada’s New Democrats. It could even adopt the name New Democratic Party. The Democrats would become the party of the centre, the Republicans the party of the right, and New Democrats a party of the left.

In the three-party system outlined above there is no place for “a shallow narcissistic demagogue such as Mr Trump”. That is intentional. It is not a bug.

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