Two Parties in Search of Their Identities
The 2016 presidential campaign was marked by schisms in both major political parties that continue today.
On the Republican side, Donald Trump ran on positions in many respects at odds with those traditionally taken by the party’s congressional leadership. The Republican Platform and most significant Republican legislative initiatives have largely ignored Trump’s positions.
It’s not just a two-way division, either. The Senate Republican Conference includes numerous disruptors such as Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Mike Lee and the John McCain/Lindsay Graham team. The House Republican Conference is in splinters, with establishment folks like Speaker Paul Ryan pitted against a variety of groups with views different from his.
On the Democratic side, while the Clintonistas have largely been sidelined, the Berniecrats are far from ascendant. Rather, a battle rages over whether the party should (a) concentrate on mobilizing the Left, (b) reach out to the disaffected white voters Trump captured, (c) court the moderate Republicans and swing voters Trump turned off or (d) employ whatever strategy seems to work for whichever district or state is being discussed.
A very different way of framing the questions facing the two parties, and one Terry will address, is this: “Who’s going to work to restore the American Dream?”
Terry Cooper, a native of Charlottesville and a graduate of Princeton and UVA Law, is a long-time Republican political consultant. For more than 30 years, he has done research for Republican political campaigns. He has worked in all 50 states, in campaigns ranging from U.S. Senator and governor down to local races.