Here’s an interesting development regarding the 2020 presidential race: We’re both vastly more interested in the election than we were four years ago and we’re convinced that neither major party represents us. What could possibly go wrong? Pretty much everything.
According to a recent Fox News poll, voters are extremely engaged in the election compared to where they were four years ago. Fully 57 percent of registered voters told Fox that they were “very interested” in the 2020 race (question three). That compares to just 30 percent around the same time in 2015. At the same time, Rasmussen finds
that 47% of Likely U.S. Voters believe it is fair to say that neither party in Congress is the party of the American people. In surveying since 2010, this finding has ranged from a high of 53% in 2014 to a low of 41% last year. Thirty-five percent (35%) disagree, while 17% are undecided.
So what happens when you combine historically high levels of interest with equally high levels of frustration with the major parties? Massive unpredictability, at the very least. That mindset is reflected in Bridget Phetasy’s essay “The Battle Cry of the Politically Homeless,” which appears at the Spectator USA website and is subtitled, “Anyone moderate with a brain and anything to lose has largely gone silent.” After noting that everything is politicized these days, the self-described “politically disinterested citizen” writes,
Democracy doesn’t die in the darkness; it dies when politics become team sports, in full view of a bloodthirsty, cheering electorate. We will return to the Dark Ages or we will evolve. Is that likely? I dunno. Have we evolved that much from the Roman Colosseum? Barreling into 2020—it doesn’t seem like it.
While both sides increasingly weaponize reason and peddle conspiracy in order to defend insanity, millions of sensible, moderate Americans grapple with the choice to join a tribe, tune out, or go insane.
If it’s way too early to guess which Democratic candidate will survive his or her party’s presidential Hunger Games and take on Donald Trump next year, this much is certain: The winner will be the person who not only turns out partisans but also woos the large number of independents. According to the latest numbers from Gallup, 38 percent of Americans identify as independents, 29 percent identify as Republican, and 27 percent as Democrats.
It’s unlikely that either major party will see a surge of new members as they get increasingly shrill, bitter, and partisan leading up to Election Day. President Trump is already floating policies that are geared to fire up his base. He wants to end birthright citizenship and double down on trade war with China, and in anticipation of a recession, he’s already lambasting the Federal Reserve for not doing his bidding. The Democrats have their own reflexive responses, including amping up charges of racism against any and all voters who disagree with them on just about anything.
The end result of such ugliness is not likely to be a great awakening of civic engagement but something like The Great Tuneout, with weaker-than-expected voter turnout and even less faith and confidence in whoever manages to squeak into office. Which, if past is prologue, will lead not to less government but more.
That is, alas, how things work: A decline in trust and confidence in political and social institutions historically breeds demand for more control and regulation by the very government we respect less and less.
For possible ways to resist this downward spiral, go here.