Political scientists Boris Heersink and Jeffery Jenkins wrote what I think is an incredibly insightful article over at The Monkey Cage, GOP Voters Picked Trump. Party Leaders Aren’t Falling in Line. Here’s Why That’s Surprising. The basis of the article is what politicians gain by joining a political party and what they give up.
They note that there has been a great deal of research done on what being in a political party provides. The biggest thing is that parties help individual politicians win — elections as well as battles over law making. They also note that relatively little research has been done on what they give up in joining a political party. That may be because it’s kind of obvious: they give up their independence.
Give a Little and Get a Little
Now I understand, none of this is shocking. Everyone has been a member of a group. And you know that you give a little and you get a little. This is, by the way, why I’m against the Bernie or Bust movement. While it’s true that Hillary isn’t my perfect candidate, neither is Bernie. If I wanted perfection, I would write in myself for every elected office in every election ever.
The problem that Heersink and Jenkins highlight is that Donald Trump hasn’t given anything to the party. He is entirely himself without making any compromises to the party. Thus, why should the party offer him all the good things that come with being in the party when he hasn’t and likely won’t reciprocate. I’m very much with John Dean: Donald Trump is a classic authoritarian leader. He’s also a narcissist. It’s all about him. I’m sure that a 1% chance of his becoming president more than offsets a 99% chance that he will destroy the political party he is nominally attached to.
Cruz Is Even More Disloyal to His Political Party
But what goes unmentioned in the article is Ted Cruz. And I think he is an even better example of this. That’s because Trump has used the Republican presidential nomination for his own purposes, but he hasn’t really used the party otherwise. He might have been able to do this well as an independent. Ted Cruz on the other hand, has used the Republican Party to win at the state level and then at the national level. But he has been the very definition of disloyal. He’s been one of the Democrats’ most potent weapons since he entered the Senate.
The conclusion of the Heersink and Jenkins article is that by Republican elites not going along with what their voters clearly want, “The result could be a complete fracturing of the party.” But I think that the fracture appeared a long time ago when candidates like Ted Cruz started getting elected. If you look at the primary so far, over 70% of all Republican votes have been for Cruz or Trump — candidates who take and do not give to the party. The base doesn’t care about the party. The base has been trained by the party itself to think that the base should get everything it wants and should never have to compromise about anything.
And I can’t blame them. Since at least Bill Clinton, the Republicans have not argued that the Democrats, as a political party, are wrong about policy, but that they are foreign interlopers bent on destroying the nation. The Republican Party is already fractured. The question is whether it will be destroyed.