As of this writing it’s still unclear how Super Tuesday will turn out. But if you believe polls, Donald Trump appears poised to lockup the nomination to the outrage of most rank-and-file Republicans, not to mention true-believing conservatives.
So the question is, what now?
It’s hard to imagine a scenario that works out well for Republicans. Some GOP donors are already eyeing an independent bid according to some reports. But it’s not clear whether these donors intend to put forward a moderate candidate like Michael Bloomberg or a conservative one like Marco Rubio. Each choice represents a faction of the party already alienated by Trump. But each would likely alienate the other faction.
And what does a GOP under Trump look like? Assuming the more moderate wing of the party peels away to support Clinton or Bloomberg and the conservatives peel off to support an independent conservative candidate, what’s left? Whatever it is, it’s unlikely to be cohesive enough to sustain itself past this election.
It’s easy to imagine the formation of a national Conservative Party. What’s hard to figure out is what happens to the rest of the GOP? Does it get subsumed into the Democrat Party? Does it become a centrist party stealing votes from left and right? Does Trump become the de facto leader of the party?
Democrats are tempted to relish the demise of the Republican party. However, it’s not clear that a post-Republican electorate works out in their favor. There may be electoral benefits initially, but absorbing the centrists from the failed GOP would likely make the Democrat party much more conservative than it’s progressive wing would appreciate. Given the rise of the Bernie Sanders wing of the Party, a shift to the right seems untenable.
If they did adsorb the center-right, it’s not impossible to think the Democrat Party too would split up after a few election cycles. We could see the rise of a Democratic-Socialist party/movement frustrated by the rightward lean of the new post-Republican Democrat party.
It’s not a likely scenario, but it is one that leave the party breakdown looking a lot more like what America looks like ideologically: a tripartite of Conservative Party (right), Liberal Democrat Party (center), and Democrat Socialist Party (left). That seems like a pretty attractive arrangement come to think of it.
This is all speculation and I readily admit my bias as I would love to see this come to fruition. Sure is fun to think about though.