Many observers; including your author and writer Frank J. DiStefano, speculate that America is undergoing a Great Political Realignment that will lead to a new Party System.
Naturally, a New Party System will require new political parties. The prospect of new political parties raises many questions. Will totally new parties arise to replace discredited predecessors, as occurred at the beginning of the Second Party System (1824-1832)?
Or will new movements take over existing parties and give them a new direction? Notably, the Fourth Party System began when Progressives took control of the Democratic Party during Woodrow Wilson’s (D-New Jersey) presidency, 1913-1921. Similarly, I think the present Fifth Party System arose in the 1970s when conservatives took over the Republican Party.
Practically, the details of the shift do not matter. What matters is that we could have new political parties taking our country in new directions. Hence we need to ask: “who will compose these parties and what will there politics be?”
Some possible new political parties for America include:
White Christian Nationalist
This party will only include and represent white Americans who belong to specific Christian denominations, probably Roman Catholics and Evangelicals. The policies of this party will be the protection the rights of Christians and increasing and maintaining the power of the Christian minority.
Such racially and religious based parties have succeeded in other countries. For example, the Hindu Nationalist BJP made Narendra Modi India’s Prime Minister.
However, I think a White Christian Nationalist Party will have a hard time winning elections nationwide or in the more populous American states. The number of whites and Christians is declining in America.
For instance, Pew estimates the percentage of Americans who identify as Protestant fell from 51% in 2009 to 43% in 2019. Similarly, the percentage of Catholics fell from 23% in 2009 to 20% in 2019. In addition, the US Census Bureau projects the United States could become a nonwhite majority nation as soon as 2045.
Hence, a White Christian Nationalist Party will drive away a majority of the potential voters. The only way such a party could keep power would be with some sort of apartheid state similar to Jim Crow. I cannot see that happening.
I think the probable future for a White Christian Nationalist Party will be to control a few smaller white majority states such as West Virginia, Idaho, and South Dakota. Nationwide the best a White Christian Nationalist Party could hope for is to share power with other groups.
Frighteningly, history shows such arrangements can work. Bizarrely, progressives shared power in the Democratic Party with the South’s Jim Crow Establishment for over 50 years, from 1912-1964. Similarly, today’s White Christian Nationalists are sharing power with libertarians in the Republican Party – the improbable alliance that supports ex-President Donald J. Trump (R-Florida).
However, such power-sharing only works when a large percentage of the population agrees to ignore racism. I cannot such denial of racism succeeding in the age of Black Lives Matter.
Working Class Populist
Recently many pundits have written about a Republican Worker’s Party. The Republican Workers Party will defend working class people, working class culture, and working-class values against arrogant elites.
Some Republican politicians and strategists want to become a Working Class Populist Party because it could win elections. In particular, exit polls show 61% of non-college educated voters; who are probably working class, voted for Republicans in 2016. In addition, FiveThirtyEight estimates that the populist Trump increased the Republican vote in 47 of 50 of America’s least educated counties.
The problem a Working Class Populist Party faces is the question: what constitutes the working class and who is working class? After all, most people work for a living. In addition, I think names such as the Uneducated Party will drive voters away, nobody wants to be called ignorant.
Does a Working Class Populist Party represent the traditional white working class or all working-class people? To win elections, I think a true Working Class Party will need to attract enormous numbers of nonwhite votes.
Bloomberg estimates that 41% of the working class is nonwhite. Moreover the majority of the working class will be nonwhite by 2032, Bloomberg predicts.
Thus Republicans will have to ditch Trump-style racism if they want to be a true working class party. I cannot imagine that happening soon.
A greater problem for a Working-Class Populist Party will be finding politicians that appeal to working-class voters. That will be difficult because most politicians of both parties are college-educated professionals.
For instance, Forbes estimates that 53% of the members of the 117th US Senate had graduate degrees. Moreover, the Congressional Research Service estimates that 96% of the members of the 116th Congress had a college degree. In contrast, the National Center for Education Statistics estimates that only 29% of Americans had a bachelor’s or graduate degree in 2019.
To succeed, I think a working-class populist party will need to run working-class candidates or candidates who respect working-class culture. Politicians can talk about respecting about the working class, but few of them will abandon their lattes, microbrews, Whole Foods, wine, and indie rock in favor of Country music, Budweiser, McDonald’s, and generic soda pop.
The final problem organizers will face: “is what does the working-class populist party stand for?” Does it adopt populist economic positions such as cutting taxes, a Basic Income, or increasing Social Security payments. Or defend traditional culture against the Woke Elite?
Remember, most working-class people do not care about cultural issues. Instead, economic issues are the prime motivator for most working-class people.
My guess is a Working-Class Populist Party will fail in America because few American politicians show any interest in the working class or their lives. Instead, I think the fake working-class populism Republicans will adopt will drive working-class voters away.
Woke Social Justice Party
The Woke Social Justice Party will try to restructure American society along the lines of Critical Race Theory and the other woke dogmas popular on some college campuses.
I think a Woke Social Justice Party will be more popular than its critics think. Remember, Americans love virtuous crusades, and the Social Justice Warriors are crusading for virtue. Moreover, the Social Justice ideology has its roots in traditional American values such as equality and tolerance. Nobody wants to be against equality or tolerance.
The significant problem with the Woke Social Justice Party is that they will limit crusade to cultural issues. Most voters do not care about cultural issues.
Consequently, I think a Woke Social Justice Party will only succeed if it combines wokeness with Bernie Sanders or Andrew Yang style economic populism. IE, ordinary people will vote for the Woke Social Justice Party if it offers a Basic Income, cash reparations for African Americans, bigger Social Security payouts, or increased funding for public education.
The Technocrats will promise to use technology and data to solve America’s problems.
For instance, replacing the current welfare state with a cryptocurrency based basic income. Or using electric vehicles to fight global warming.
Technocracy will have a potent appeal because of the failure of traditional politics. Most voters will applaud if the technocrats replace bureaucrats with algorithms, for example. The technocrats will present themselves as a fact-based alternative to Trumpism and Social Justice Warriors.
I think the Democrats are moving toward technocracy. Notably, President Joe Biden’s (D-Delaware) embrace of competence and willingness to listen to scientists’ advice about the Coronavirus is Technocracy.
The Technocratic Party will be popular because it offers a lower-cost and less intrusive alternative to the traditional welfare state. I think the Technocrats’ base will be in the Upper Middle Class.
The greatest resistance to Technocrats will come from the working class. Remember robots are more likely to take working-class jobs.
One result of Technocracy could be to make working class populism more popular. Trump’s rejection of science could be the beginning of this trend.
Technocracy’s greatest appeal is technology’s ability to improve our lives. For example, the phone in your pocket that allows you to surf the internet, take photographs, shop on Amazon, watch TV, or make a home movie from anywhere. Or Amazon’s ability to allow you to order almost anything you want from your couch. In contrast to most political dogmas Technocracy can offer tangible and measurable results fast.
People whose lives technology improves, everybody but the Amish, will find Technocracy attractive. A failure to deliver on technocratic promises will be fatal for future politicians. Democrats learned this when their digital Obamacare Exchange proved to be a traditional paper-based bureaucratic mess.
The danger from Technocracy is a high-tech police state with a digital poorhouse to trap the poor and a surveillance state to control the working class. A frightening example of Technocracy run wild is today’s People’s Republic of China where social credit is being abused as a tool of repression.
A related problem is Technocracy’s tendency to increase Income Inequality by concentrating wealth in the hands of the rich. This makes society less stable and increases demands for repression.
There are many other potential new political parties in America but I think the four I outline above the are the most probable. In addition, a combination of any of these parties; for instance, Social Justice Technocracy or Working-Class Nationalist, could be a winner.
We need to think about America’s next political parties because The Next Realignment is in progress. All voters need to understand the new parties and politics that arise from that Realignment.