The Republican Party is in real turmoil at the moment. Although there is still time and hope within the ranks of their more sensible players that it will all come good in the end, at the moment they have two frontrunners in the presidential nominee race in Trump and Carson who are completely unelectable. However, as soon as I’ve said that I can hear the pundits at Breitbart shouting, “That’s a contradiction in terms. If Trump and Carson are way ahead within the race that in and of itself means they are by definition electable. It’s only you and your liberal bias that can’t see that for what it is.”
This reminds me immediately of the arguments around Corbyn’s electability in the UK. “But he won the Labour leadership race so overwhelmingly,” the Left will say. “That means he is by definition electable. It’s only you and your centre-right bias that can’t see that for what it is.” The similarity between the Left in Britain and the Right in America is that both have drifted away from where mainstream thinking is in either of their respective countries. Both are animated more than anything else by a rejection of “establishment politics”, and by anger over and above any sort of pragmatic view involving how they would like things to actually be different.
Much is made of the power of anti-politics. One example that gets trotted out is the SNP taking almost every seat in Scotland. It’s actually a poor one in many respects: the SNP have been in government in Scotland for some time, a fact that often gets left to one side when discussing the phenomenon we saw in May. It isn’t an academic point either: the SNP’s record in government was part of the reason a lot of ex-Labour voters would have felt safe voting for them in the general election. I myself have been involved directly in a few campaigns fuelled by an anti-politics vibe. I can say that it always fails in the end if it is taken to a wide enough electorate.
And that’s, as Han Solo might say, the real trick: the memberships of both the Labour and the Republican parties have now become wildly detached from the thinking of the wider electorates. So the idea that a majority of Labour members might think Corbyn is the new Jesus tells you nothing at all about how he will be perceived by the country as a whole. Judging by the Trump thing, same thing applies to America and the Republicans: in a presidential contest between Clinton and Trump (or Carson), Hilary would win easily.
Which brings me neatly to my conclusion. In the end, the upshot of all this is that there is one loser: democracy itself. Because as a direct result of all of this, the 2016 presidential contest could quickly become a coronation for Hilary Clinton and the next UK general election a foregone conclusion. Wherever you happen to sit on the political spectrum, I don’t see how you can argue that that is a good thing.