As I think back over the 50 plus years I have been a voting adult, I have seen tremendous change in positions by both parties.
I have watched the Democrat party move toward more liberal/progressive positions and their strength in the Northeast has grown while their strength in the South has waned. The reverse is true of the Republicans. The days of the “Rockefeller” Republicans are gone and the Northeast is pretty much controlled by the Ds. The days of Senator Goldwater, the Republican stalwart conservative saying “a woman’s right to choose is none of the governments business” is no longer Republican philosophy.
In addition both parties have seen shifts in foreign policy positions depending upon changing world events.
Those ebb and flows are normal movements in the political process, however we are now seeing a much more fundamental change occurring. It is obvious to most that both Trump and Sanders are, in different ways, representing those changes in philosophy, objectives and temperament.
Hillary Clinton has staked out the position that America is still great but some modifications are in order. The combined Trump Sanders folks believe the country is broken beyond repair and major shake up is necessary. The main difference I see between Trump and Sanders supporters is that Trump folks are madder and meaner but a number of their core beliefs are similar.
I can envision three major parties coming out of this mess. Party 1 might be the party of liberals who stake out pure progressive ideas, want national health care and from a European perspective, espouse what could be called socialist positions. They see regulation as important to reign in business excess, believe deficit spending for the right causes as necessary and see climate change as one of the most pressing issues confronting mankind. They love humanitarian causes when looking at foreign policy but deride major hard-hitting military intervention. On minimum wage, 15.00 may not suffice. They would also vote for extremely restrictive gun laws.
Party 2 is conservative, isolationist, wants government out of our lives and pocket books, less regulation, deny climate change and want major restrictions on immigration and much stricter trade policy. They also believe the markets should set the wage base. In some specific cases, especially those espoused by the religious right within the group, they want government in our lives, abortion and government spying on private citizens to “keep us safe” are some examples. However in other ways they want government to pull back, have very few gun laws and close down the IRS. They have a libertarian bent on some issues but not on others. Under Party 2, their would be no gun laws .
Party number 3 is right in the middle. The old Rockefeller Republicans are at home here. The Blue Dog Democrats are also quite confortable. This party wants a balanced budget and is willing to pay for it, is ok with moderate levels of vetted immigration, and wants us to be active in world affairs but careful in our involvement. It also wants moderate trade policy and believes government can do some things right. Party 3 would probably go for expanding the minimum wage to 12.00 and try not to hurt small business by indexing future increases. On gun laws, they would roll back to the 60s where hunting and self protection were the norm but-“big but” no military style weapons with 30 round clips allowed and gun show loop holds closed.
What I do not know is which of the parties would pull back a lot on trade policy-that might be a joint non-partisan venture.
Assuming we do move to a three party system, the question becomes, as with the TV show the Price is Right, which party is behind the door that will get them elected?