Election 2020

America's Two Major Political Parties Are Melting Down. But the Two-Party System Remains Strong.

Instead of destroying the political gatekeepers, we've merely handed the keys to the populists.

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It is tempting to point and laugh—or at least chuckle a little bit—at the current, sad state of America's two largest political parties.

One has been consumed by a cult of personality built around a man who holds few of the ideological principles that, until recently, defined Republicanism. The other, if current odds are to believed, is heading towards a presidential nominating convention that will either crown a self-described socialist (who is not an actual member of the party) or descend into total chaos.

At this moment, national polls suggest that the most viable alternative to Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) promised revolution is the insurgent candidacy of another outsider: former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who may accurately be called a DINO—that's "Democrat-in-name-only," to repurpose a tea party era slur from the other side of the aisle.

Bloomberg is a billionaire—you know, the class of people whom Democrats have spent the last several years demagoguing against—with a history of supporting racist police tactics, donating to Republicans, and being downright Trumpian in his disregard for the rule of law, as New York Times columnist Ross Douthat highlighted last week.

Nothing is settled yet, of course, but it seems increasingly likely that the two-party system will produce a 2020 presidential general election featuring a rich Democrat-turned-Republican from New York City who admires authoritarians and has a long history of making disparaging remarks towards women running against a super-rich Republican-turned-Democrat from New York City who admires authoritarians and has a long history of making disparaging remarks towards women.

Or we could have the socialist who says having choices is overrated.

So, yes, it is easy to throw one's hands up and laugh at this selection of candidates. It is easier still to laugh at the failures of the supposed mainstream candidates who were supposed to stop them—the Marco Rubios, Ted Cruzes, Joe Bidens, and Elizabeth Warrens of the political world, all of whom spent years working their way through their respective party's system only to be bigfooted out of the way by a populist authoritarian of one variety or another.

If you're a libertarian, independent, or anyone else who operates outside and around the two major parties, this might seem like good news; like the two-party system is finally losing its grip on American politics.

But don't mistake the collapse of America's two preeminent political parties for the collapse of the two-party system itself. The latter is certainly welcome. But the former could easily lead us into a nightmare scenario where populism rules both parties and alternatives remain effectively sidelined by structural barriers erected during a previous era.

To understand why, it helps to first understand what's happened to the Republican and Democratic parties in the past few years. As political scientists from Yale, Marquette, and elsewhere have been noting for a while, both major parties are relatively weak right now—that is, the party structures have less influence over their presidential nominating processes than they historically have.

There are many examples of how political parties have become more small-d democratic in recent decades, but perhaps the most relevant is the way that the large-d Democratic Party changed its rules after 2016. This year, Democratic Party insiders who play a role at the party's convention (colloquially referred to as "superdelegates") will not be allowed to vote on the first ballot in Milwaukee.

In other words, having just watched a political outsider hijack the Republican Party, and having narrowly escaped Sanders' surprise insurrection against Hillary Clinton—which was prevented, in part, by the influence of the superdelegates—the Democratic Party decided that the right thing to do was….make it easier for an outsider candidate to smash his way into the party.

Not being a partisan, I don't have much interest whether the internal apparatus of the Republican Party or Democratic Party is strong or weak. As Reason editor at large Nick Gillespie has approvingly noted, Trump and Sanders are burning the traditional Republican and Democratic establishments to the ground. Good riddance to them.

But what I'd hope to see from the hollowing out of the two major parties is the creation of an environment where a greater set of political ideas can flourish. That, so far at least, has not happened.

Even though both parties are weakening internally, they remain externally strong. Thanks to decades of self-serving rulemaking, the two major parties will continue to have a stranglehold on power long after they've been hollowed out by the populists.

Just look at what happened when populism in the form of Trumpism invaded the GOP. The result has been a more bizarre form of political conformity, in which allegiance to Trump's views and defense of his personal interests come before all else. Principled Republicans have mostly been forced out of the party or sidelined to a significant degree.

There's no reason to think the outcome of a populist takeover of the Democratic Party would be much different. And that, I suspect, is part of the reason why longtime establishment figures on the left, like James Carville, are freaking out about the prospect of a Sanders nomination.

Upending the two-party system has not created fertile ground for a greater range of political viewpoints to compete in elections. Instead of destroying the political gatekeepers, we've merely handed the keys to the populists.

There's been no groundswell of support for, say, reforming ballot access laws to let third parties have a more fair shot. The practical and structural barriers to the creation of new and different political parties remain roughly as sturdy as ever, and the media continues to cover politics as a two-way, zero-sum game, which only reinforces the idea that the only factions who matter are the ones currently controlling Team Red or Team Blue.

Indeed, if the two-party system itself was collapsing, Bloomberg would have entered the race as an independent. He's flirted with that idea for years. But when he finally decided to toss his hat into the ring, it made more sense—even for the 9th richest man in the world—to try to hijack the name, branding, and built-in advantages of one of the existing major parties.

When it comes to policymaking, the populist takeover doesn't seem to be accomplishing much good. Trump's version of the Republican Party has jettisoned whatever fiscal conservativism it might have possessed and has become increasingly hostile to the free movement of goods and people around the world. A Democratic Party with Sanders at the helm would try to run deficits to even higher highs and might be even more hostile to trade.

And no populist administration is going to tackle the entitlement programs that are the biggest driver of America's long-term budget issues, because doing so would be quite unpopular.

Instead of a broadening of political perspectives, we're already running full speed into a 2020 election cycle that will recycle the same tired arguments that force voters into a binary choice—"if you don't vote for Trump, you're helping elect Sanders!" The only difference is that both choices might be populist authoritarians this time around.

In short, whether Trump or Bloomberg have an "R" or a "D" next to their names hardly matters—all that matters, it seems, is that they have one of those letters.

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  1. “I may be going to hell in a bucket, babe
    But at least I’m enjoying the ride, at least I’ll enjoy the ride.…”

  2. Total chaos for $200 please.

  3. Just look at what happened when populism in the form of Trumpism invaded the GOP. The result has been a more bizarre form of political conformity, in which allegiance to Trump’s views and defense of his personal interests come before all else. Principled Republicans have mostly been forced out of the party or sidelined to a significant degree.

    If by “principled” you mean Republicans who wanted to help the deep state overturn the election, sure. Otherwise, that statement is dumb even by Boehm’s admittedly low standards. There isn’t a single Trump policy that isn’t in line with what the Republican Party’s beliefs have been for the last 70 years. At most Trump represents a mild repudiation of the sort of globalist neocon views of the Bush family. But those views were outside of the GOP mainstream for most of the party’s history and Trump’s repudiation of those positions have been more rhetorical than anything else. We are after over three years of Trump being in office still in NATO and still in Afghanistan and Iraq aren’t we?

    The claim that Trump is some kind of radical is by far the most stupid one made by his critics.

    1. This article is dribble.

    2. Trump’s written policy listings are actually unremarkable in terms of their relative extremism. Only being problematic to the corrupt establishment of both parties. And the ‘social democrats’ Of course.

      1. Don’t forget that he’s a big meanie on Twitter, that’s far more important than any policies he’s actually implemented.

        1. The ruling class *hates* political communication unmediated by their gatekeepers.

    3. Did you really say that Trump’s policies are in line with the Republican Party over the last 70 years? Ignorance like this is why democracies fail.

    4. “Principled Republicans”

      It’s fun watching Reason blow NeoClowns.

      The trouble with Boehm’s analysis of Republican principles is in keeping with his contempt for the People; he equates the right wing of the ruling Globalist Uniparty with Republicans, instead of the Republican base.

      Trump is consistent with the Republican base. The right wing of the Globalist Uniparty is not.
      Reduced regulation. Free markets. Right to try. No nation building.
      Trade and immigration policy that benefit America as a whole instead of just the globalist ruling class, Slave Emperor Xi, and illegal aliens.

      1. +1000

  4. Here’s what matters for us Koch / Reason libertarians. The GOP has been taken over by alt-right white nationalists, while the Democrats are rapidly moving toward Charles Koch’s immigration position. So whether the Dems nominate Bloomberg or Bernie or Warren, the choice in November is clear.

    #VoteDemocratForOpenBorders
    #ImmigrationAboveAll

    1. Actually we have been taken over by alt-right black nationalists. Lead by our master, Dr. Ben Carson. And Dr. Carson has prescribed a big dose of Donald Trump for all of us.

      So take your medicine. The doctor knows what ails you.

      1. You got in wrong Ben Carson has been taken over by the Space Habiru who built the pyramids as celestial beacons. So they are actually running things preparing for their eventual return.

    2. “The GOP has been taken over by alt-right white nationalists, while the Democrats are rapidly moving toward Charles Koch’s immigration position.”

      Thanks for making that crystal clear for those who have been snoozing through the last 30 years.

    3. Sorry, much like the Left is so insane it cannot be satirized, so is Reason on immigration.

      Nick:
      In the 21st century, libertarians are going to have make common cause with the globalists of all parties, with the people whose core value is the right of individuals to move freely around the planet.

      Watching The Brink made me think that for all the other differences Reason has with the socialist magazine Jacobin, it may matter far more that we share a belief in open borders.

      https://reason.com/2019/04/12/steve-bannons-economic-nationalism-is-th/

  5. This should be seen as a good thing for libertarians. The more time the 2 major parties spend eating their own the less time they spend governing.

    Devolving into purely political machines that exist purely to oppose the “other guy” has resulted in less expansion of government. For instance, the Democrats have spent the last 6 months REEEEEing about the Ukraine instead of legislating, this is a very good thing. I’m not sure why a libertarian would want either major party to actually function in any real way.

    1. If the parties are weak and susceptible to a takeover, then what is to stop Libertarians from getting in on the action? Nothing except for the fact that Libertarians seem to think that appealing to actual voters is beneath them.

      1. I think it’s moreso that most actual libertarians (perhaps we have a big-L small-l distinction here) have far better things to be doing with their time than governing. It sucks, but I can’t blame them; holding political office sounds like a nightmare.

        I also think there are parts of the ideology that just aren’t ever going to appeal to the masses. A big part of what we believe in is personal responsibility, and that’s anathema to many people. There are a lot of people who want to live at someone else’s expense, and they’ll never vote libertarian regardless of how weak the other parties are.

        1. That is true of a lot of people. The bottom line is that if you want to be an ideologue and keep your principles join the Church. There you can live in the world of ideals. If you want to live in the real world, you have to be willing to compromise and take on the hard problem of just how much you are willing to compromise your principles. No one is ever getting everything they want in the real world or in politics. Libertarians are ideologues and idealists and don’t like that.

          1. “If you want to live in the real world, you have to be willing to compromise…”

            And by “compromise”, you mean violate NAP. Which is to say, to steal and murder.

            Gee, I wonder why I wouldn’t want to do that?!

      2. The reason the Libertarian party can’t make any headway is because we consistently shoot for the national stage, period. We need to build up our base in states, counties, and small localities first like every major party does in the beginning. That’s like applying for a CEO job right out of college before attempting to work in middle management.

    2. It’s not a good thing: The reason the two party system remains strong and the two parties are melting down, is that the two parties have legally entrenched themselves to the point where they don’t HAVE to actually be appealing to avoid being displaced. A third party replacing either of them is now basically impossible, and they know it.

      Neither of them feels the need to be affirmatively appealing anymore, they’re just need to seem less awful to a plurality of the population who still bother voting.

  6. And Mike Bloomberg is the exact opposite of a populist.

    1. Elitist, in every possible sense of the word
      Authoritarian, consistently

      1. Bloomberg is the most obnoxious major party candidate I have ever seen. I am stunned that anyone thinks he can get elected to anything outside of maybe Mayor of New York again by default.

        1. Opinions are like assholes, everyone has one

    2. Bloomberg is a pseudo-emperor.

      1. Pseudo, you say?

        1. There’s a short joke to be made here but I’m struggling to get to it.

    3. Bloomberg is a moral busybody dreaming of omnipotence.

  7. I don’t believe the republicans can in any way be considered “melting down” they are arguably at one of the strongest positions at the state and federal level in their history. Also the two party system may remain strong but they are being run largely by political independents. The current defacto head of the the republicans is a former registered democrat who only first ran for public office 3 years ago. The current front runner of the democratic primary is a former independent socialist who literally just flipped parties to run in the primary and the odds on second favorite is a former republican.

    1. I don’t particularly understand the point of this stupid fucking article.

      1. Neither did the author. He should have just wrote “Orange Man Bad”. It would have made just as much sense and would have at least had the virtue of brevity.

      2. Same point as usual: Orange Man Bad, Ruling Class Good!

    2. The Republicans have an incumbent President who is producing huge turnouts for primaries where he is essentially unopposed. How Eric interprets that along with their overall strength in Congress and at the State and Local level to be melting down is a mystery known only to his rather dim mind.

      How do people write this shit?

      1. huge turnouts for primaries where he is essentially unopposed

        What planet are you on?
        2020 Iowa caucuses – 32,000 turnout v 187,000 turnout in 2016
        2020 NH primary – 152,000 turnout v 286,000 in 2016

        Yes he is unopposed. But if you think a 50+% reduction in turnout is a sign of increased strength for the R’s, then you are an idiot.

        1. Compare those turnouts to years in which incumbent Presidents were running unopposed. They are enormous.

          Of course they are lower than 2016 when there were a dozen candidates and there wasn’t an incumbent. You fucking retard.

          You really don’t understand what is going on here and need to shut up. Really, stop wasting people’s time posting nonsense.

        2. Now compare them to the 2012 Democrat caucus dummy.

    3. The Republican Party, considered as a party that stands for a particular platform, is absolutely melted down, because the new platform of the Republican Party is “whatever Trump tweets about”.

      Look at how easily Republicans fell in line with paid family leave, mandated by the federal government. Don’t forget that George H. W. Bush vetoed an UNPAID family leave bill. Clinton of course passed FMLA, but when Obama proposed the paid family leave idea in 2015, Republicans pitched a fit. Hell, paid family leave was on Hillary Clinton’s platform in 2016! But Trump proposes it, and the response from Republicans is a big meh.

      Look at guns. Obama could not get away with even saying the word ‘gun’ without Republicans accusing him of wanting to ban them. But Trump actually bans bump stocks – more gun control than what Obama ever accomplished – and the response is crickets.

      Can you honestly say that if, tomorrow, Trump were to say that “you know, abortion isn’t all that big of a deal anyway” (he USED to be pro-choice after all), that Republicans wouldn’t find a way to rationalize to themselves why they shouldn’t become pro-choice too? Just like they have rationalized away every other Trump excess?

      And based on what I’ve seen anyway, it would absolutely be the same with the Democrats if Sanders were to win. The center-left neoliberal types would be pushed aside and unwavering support for European-style social democracy would become the new litmus test for being a member of Team Blue.

      It’s cults of personalities all the way down.

      1. I am told they have meds for this kind of stuff. They are pretty powerful and have serious side effects, but they do help. You need to think about them.

        1. Yeah, sure, Trump is the model of ideological consistency. LOL

        2. Do you really think Trump enjoys 95+% support among Republicans because of ideology alone?

          1. You’re not making any sense at all. There are only two parties they are both filled with people with different ideologies that don’t actually agree or see eye to eye on anything and many, many many single issue voters.

          2. 95% of Republicans support Trump because they recognize that he is very much preferable to Hillary, Sanders, Bloomberg, or Biden.

            1. Many of those same Republicans were happy to support Obama/Biden in 2008 and 2012 though. So that can’t be it. Hmm maybe it’s the cult of personality and the demagoguery. Maybe there’s something to that.

              1. “…Many of those same Republicans were happy to support Obama/Biden in 2008 and 2012 though…”

                Bullshit.

          3. Do you really think ideology is the only legitimate reason to support to politician? Actually you do because you are dumb as a fucking post. Think hard and maybe you can come up with all of the reasons someone would support a politician even though they didn’t agree with everything they did or said.

            It scares the hell out of me that there are people in the world walking around as dumb as you appear to be.

            1. Do you really think ideology is the only legitimate reason to support to politician?

              No I don’t, which is my whole point, dumbass. Republican support for Trump has a large component of a cult of personality.

              So if you view a political party as a collection of individuals who are in favor of a set of principles, then this no longer applies to the Republicans. It is about whatever Trump tweets.

              And if Sanders were to win, it would be the same with Democrats. The Democratic Party would be entirely about whatever Sanders uttered, regardless of their positions in the past.

              1. No I don’t, which is my whole point, dumbass. Republican support for Trump has a large component of a cult of personality.</I.

                So you think the only reason to support a politician is ideology or cult of personality?

                Just please tell me you have not had children. That is all I ask.

                1. I said “A LARGE COMPONENT” of a cult of personality, not that it’s the only thing. Learn to read and stop being so dishonest.

                  And I do think that A LARGE COMPONENT of Trump’s support comes from Trump’s own personality, yes.

                  Another component comes from Trump’s demagoguery. He is more than willing to appeal to people’s biases and hatred towards outgroups. If it’s not Mexicans stealing their jerbs and living off welfare, then it’s Chinese ripping off Americans, or it’s those fru-fru Europeans not paying their “fair share”.

                  1. I just don’t understand why people as consumed by resentment as you are continue to live.
                    You’d clearly be happier not existing.

                    1. Fuck off.

        3. Hey John…

          Do you recall the awesome enchanter named “Tim”, in “Monty Python and the Search for the Holy Grail”? The one who could “summon fire without flint or tinder”? Well, you remind me of Tim… You are an enchanter who can summon persuasion without facts or logic!

          1. Shut up Hihn and take your meds; and if nothing else try to come up with some new material; you tried the same bs on me a couple of months ago.

            1. “take your meds”? YOU call THAT “new material” around here? You idiots stop with the TOTALLY empty-headed, boring, un-original insults, and I’ll stop encouraging you to submit your idiocy to Reason staff!

              Now when are you gonna get off of your ass and submit your BRILLIANT writings to Reason.com?

              Here you go: Please send your resume, and another sample of your writings, along with your salary or fee demands, to ReasonNeedsBrilliantlyPersuasiveWriters@Reason.com .

              1. It’s not “material”, Hihn really should take his meds.

      2. Seek treatment; we’re tired of your TDS whining.

        1. Ok boomer.

        2. Sevo… You capable of much besides infantile insults?

          Goo-goo-gah-hah, cootchy-cooooo!!! Do you feel better now, or do you need a warm ba-ba now?

          1. “Ok boomer.”
            Are you enjoying your stay in the 6th grade?

          2. SQRLSY One
            February.19.2020 at 2:04 pm
            Fuck off, you pathetic piece of shit.

      3. It’s always been this way though. There have never been principles only principals.

        1. No that’s not true actually. Look at what happened when W. Bush proposed Social Security reform, or immigration reform. His own party turned on him.

          Look at when Clinton supported NAFTA or supported welfare reform. Again his own party turned on him.

          Compare this to Trump. What has Trump done that his own party has turned on him for?

          1. What did Obama do that Dems turned on him for?

            1. Well his AG was found in contempt of congress.

              Oh wait, the dems didn’t care.

          2. God you’re fucking ignorant Jeff.

            The bill passed the Senate on November 20, 1993, 61–38.[20] Senate supporters were 34 Republicans and 27 Democrats. Clinton signed it into law on December 8, 1993;

            Yeah. Really turned on Clinton.

      4. “It’s cults of personalities all the way down.” — I’ll disagree with that.

        A Politicians Name isn’t a Policy.. If we’re going to be judging a “Name” instead of a “Policy” then the judgement factor must be a “Summation” of Policy.

        Trump earned a lot of PLUS summation in his first few years by throwing out the damning Obama Policies, cutting regulation & red-tape, and freeing political prisoners locked up by the Obama Era.

        I see Trump heading left more-so every year; but it’ll take a few more “meh” policies to change the summation score-card. It’s not so much a “cult of personalities” as it is a “summation”. And comparing Trumps “meh” score-card of -50 to ALL DEMOCRATIC politicians score-card of -Infinity (They want to destroy the USA) it’ll never go across party lines. I’d vote for Rand Paul if he was running against Trump.

      5. “But Trump actually bans bump stocks”

        The hysteria over the ban of bump stocks is dumb. Fully auto is already illegal. If you want to argue to overturn that ban, do so.

        But arguing that banning a technological hack that attempts to evade implementing language on the ban on full autos is such weak tea to get hysterical over.

        The Republican Party has moved on the welfare state. Get over it. Family medical leave is small potatoes compared to Dubya’s medicare drug benefit.
        Trump worked to repeal Obamacare until all Republicans were screwed by McCain’s betrayal. He did repeal the Obamacare mandate.

        The Republican Party should move *farther* on the welfare state. The major failing on the Right is blessing numerous pro-corporate violations of free market principles while shrieking hysterically over pro-labor violations of free market principles.
        #LockeanProviso

      6. The thing about bump stocks is, who even heard of them until this shooting incident? So of course it’s meh.

        It’s not cults of personalities, it’s cults of winning at the polls.

  8. Nothing ever changes. It’s the good old “Rs and Ds are the same argument” except you dropped those labels and just called everything populism.

    Feel free to continue describing national self-determinism as populism. It serves only to accelerate your downward spiral into further irrelevancy.

    1. “Populism” is anything that is popular that the speaker doesn’t like. Didn’t you know that?

    2. “National self-determinism”? Say what? One of the few things we are self-determining right now, in our choices between authoritarian shit sandwiches flavors “A” and “B”, is that the OTHER tribe should be blamed! We also (almost all) seem to agree with… “Don’t tax you, don’t tax me, tax the fella behind the tree”! And debt and irresponsibility (and the size of Government Almighty) keep right on growing!

      This, while HUGE numbers of people ID themselves as “socially liberal, fiscally conservative”, yet will NOT vote libertarian!

      A damned good way of explaining this (which isn’t getting enough attention) is that people’s self-righteousness gets in the way of voting for smaller Government Almighty! The WRONG people must be PUNISHED, dammit!

      Leftists insist that people who make the “wrong” charity choices, MUST be punished! Government Almighty will make your charity choices for you, you skin-flint! And people who say politically incorrect things must ALSO be punished! So no, I can’t vote libertarian; libertarians are sadly lacking in self-righteousness about my pet peeves!

      Republican ditto, except their favorite self-righteousness issues (among others) are illegal sub-humans, and ferriners who “steal R. jerbs”, for lack of enough trade protectionism. My jerbs must be PROTECTED from free-choice buyers who might buy from the WRONG people!

      1. “people’s self-righteousness gets in the way of voting for smaller Government Almighty!” — Well Said.

        I’d add though that there is still a vast difference between the moral compasses of..
        (Left)
        Power = Wealth (Sympathetic Gun Theft is Justice)
        Socialist Uniformity = Liberty
        -vs-
        Power = Justice (In which Gun-Theft -> Wealth is Criminal & Punishable)
        Value = Wealth (Individual Choices & Produce = Wealth)
        Individual Freedom = Liberty

    3. What precisely do you mean by “national self-determinism” and how is it different than populism?

    4. A nation has no self to determine.

      Only individuals do, and the “nation” can fuck right off with the rest of the self-determined slavers.

  9. Boehm, do your homework: it’s call “Duverger’s law”.

    1. It is NOT Duverger’s Law. Jeezus H Keerist.

      We have serious (and unique) structural problems that the DeRps have created for third parties – that Boehm mentions (ballot access, etc)

      We have – thanks to the DeRps – gone from the most representative government in the world (and within a system designed to be decentralized too) to the least representative government in the world (within a system that is now highly centralized too)

      And we have existing ‘third parties’ who are lazy as fuck and disorganized as a Karachi traffic jam. So spend their time yapping about Duverger’s Law instead of focusing on the ACTUAL problems.

  10. I did enjoy reading the linked Carville interview for its incoherence and desperation.

  11. It is tempting to point and laugh—or at least chuckle a little bit—at the current, sad state of America’s two largest political parties.

    1. “Point and laugh”

      The predatory ruling class has nothing but contempt for their prey.

  12. “And no populist administration is going to tackle the entitlement programs”

    Perhaps but that’s a problem across the Western world. And of all the people who is mostly to be entitled to it Trump seems to fit the description. Plus, hasn’t the number of people on food stamps gone down after it swelled under Obama?

    I keep hearing about Trump’s populism. If you focus on rhetoric, sure, populist. But I fail to see how this translates into actual policies.

    From where I sit, he’s done some really good things that I would think would please Reason particularly prison and tax reform as well as seems to be reigning in some aggressive agencies like the EPA. Never mind his non-interventionist military instincts.

    I guess you can play ‘they’re both bide’ game here but I think the GOP is more intact that the loony bin known as the DNC.

    It’s the same crap up here. Except we call our lunatic ideologues Liberals.

    And you should see the mess Justin is doing. It’s like a little boy shitting all over the carpet with a smile.

    1. “And of all the people who is mostly to be entitled to it Trump seems to fit the description. ”

      Make that of all the people who would likely tackle entitlements it would be Trump.

      I made a a mess of that.

      1. of all the people who would likely tackle entitlements it would be Trump.

        Why? Of the few things he has been consistent on, one of those is his complete insistence that nothing happen to Social Security or Medicare.

        1. I think by entitlements they mean SS and Medicare right?

          Not food stamps and other welfare benefits?

          If the former, I still think there’s an argument to be made where he’d tackle it if he could but those are such gigantic entitlements that come with all sorts of political risks.

          1. Those two should not even be included in the federal budget as they are financed separately from income tax and other federal revenue.

            1. …”Those two should”… be sold off to private businesses where they can compete in a free market. Set some ‘security’ boundary laws like requiring them to carry crash insurance like FDIC (but private) and leave retirement saving in ownership of those who EARN it.

              Welfare should be simply that and nothing else and remain LOCALLY implemented by communities voter choice. After all; Welfare is the “Beggars” and must live at the whim of those they leach off-of.

          2. Nope he has always been firm and consistent on SS and Medicare.

            1. “Nope he has always been firm and consistent on SS and Medicare.”

              “Trump Outlines a Significant Social Security Cut in His 2020 Budget”
              https://www.fool.com/retirement/2019/03/14/trump-outlines-a-significant-social-security-cut-i.aspx

              1. That is true but he is not going to eliminate SS or Medicare. There have been rate adjustments all along since the program started. You have to do that to keep it from going under. Either that or raise FICA. Both have been done.

            2. “Nope he has always been firm and consistent on SS and Medicare.”

              “Meantime, Donald Trump is coming for your Medicare and Social Security”
              https://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/op-ed/ej-montini/2020/01/23/medicare-and-social-security-cut-donald-trump/4550836002/

              Like Rick Blaine, you see to be misinformed.

    2. If you don’t see “Trump’s populism”, you’re not paying attention.

      Trump’s Major Campaign Themes
      Build The Wall
      Fix Bad Trade Deals
      Drain The Swamp

      The first two ends the “soak the peasants” immigration and trade policies of the Globalists.
      The second returns power to elected representatives, and thereby to those who elect them.

  13. Dump Pence! Trump-Bloomberg in 2020!

    1. Makes sense to me! Birds of a feather, flock together!

    2. And now that Trump is officially a Florida resident, it would even be constitutionally allowed!

      1. Good thinking!

  14. Good article Boehm. I’ve been hostile to DeRp for a couple of decades now. But I do not see any silver lining in how this collapse is unfolding. It is potentially the worst of all possible worlds. A duopoly that eliminates even the pretense of representing anyone but the completely committed. But that can agree completely that only the duopoly should be allowed and can ensure nothing disturbs that hold on power.

    1. >Good article Boehm
      Did you take simp pills this morning?

  15. Yes, everything is melting down but somehow the libertarian party is as useless as ever.

    The only thing melting down is your idea of utopia. Welcome to reality.

    1. A libertarian society would be far from utopian. There would likely be many conflicts, winners and losers, greater inequality of outcomes, broad disagreements on policy issues, all of that.

      It is authoritarian government that promises utopia. Libertarians promise to give you nothing but yourself.

      What is Bernie’s Socialism or MAGA if not a utopian promise to the masses? Buying into either one is not simply admitting reality it is buying into political hogwash. It is granting legitimacy to one or the other.

      1. Yeah, man, way to go, Echospinner! Echospinner = Speaker of the Truth! (Or A Truth, and the very least!)

    2. The Libertarian Party, much like Reason, is *more* useless than ever.

      Reason has been trampled in the long march through the institutions, and my impression is that so has the Libertarian Party.

  16. “A government of the people, by the people, for the people”

    Fucking populists!

    1. Exactly. Pointless article with a breathtakingly flawed premise. At least boehm got his bash on.

    2. And Reason is *against* it.

  17. The two parties have colluded and continue to collude to keep any other party off the ballot in all fifty states. That is the only reason they remain strong, there is no other choice.

    1. ^ This

  18. The two party “system” isn’t a system. It’s simply the consequence of the winner take all election laws.

    Change the election law to get a better system.

    1. Or get representation levels much more granular and remove electrons from the system entirely. It would have the side effect of shutting up all the assholes who bitch about the electoral college being unfair as well.

      1. That should read electors not electrons. Fucking autocorrect.

      2. “Or get representation levels much more granular” … EXACTLY as the U.S. Constitution outlines. The real PROBLEM today is the, “winner take all election laws” is just a consequence of the Federal Government takes ALL.

        The “Union of States” wasn’t established for citizen uniformity by a supreme dictating force. It was established for strong national defense. That is very CLEARLY portrayed by our U.S. Constitution. And ONLY to protect very basic citizen’s humane rights against State’s might try to elect a socialist dictator like Hitler and the Nazi’s (National Socialism).

  19. If we’re looking for unifying principles, I don’t think “populism” is helpful. Politics is a popularity contest, by definition.

    The unifying principle in the devolution of American politics is really the belief that whatever the problem or opportunity, we should look to the government for the solution. It is the anti-libertarian, anti-Jeffersonian spirit that inspires both parties and most of the electorate.

    As Hayek predicted, the rage and frustration that leaders can’t act expeditiously because of diversity of opinion, mounts in direct proportion to the expectations placed on government. Hayek believed that the inevitable outcome was dictatorship. Only then can government function “properly.”

    If Trump were a dictator, his wall would be finished. If Bernie didn’t have to deal with Congress, he could destroy the billionaire class and implement Medicare-for-All during his first year in office. The majority of Americans are seeking a totalitarian government, all unawares.

    1. “we should look to the government for the solution. It is the anti-libertarian, anti-Jeffersonian spirit that inspires both parties” — Another excellent comment!

      Which all started really taking off after FDR stuffed the Supreme Courts to violate the Constitution. Today; it’s treated like joke to the point where many citizens believe the country is a free-willy Democracy instead of a Republic (The very definition difference between having a Constitution and nothing at all).

  20. A choice between two political parties is only a small step above no choice at all.

    We have 40 years of neoliberalism which leads to Trump, he’s just doing what they couldn’t.

  21. Populists?…you mean people who scream “Market Crash!” every time it goes down 1%, like you Eric? you are the idiotic problem

    1. #KochBucks

  22. Political parties are more than just their presidential candidates.

    For example, when it comes to Congress, the parties are fine, healthy, business as usual.

  23. a weak small spending federal govt would ensure none of this would matter..but alas 4T a year spending, massive debt, a federal govt that believes it can take away our economic liberty in the name of “equality” and an empire have wrecked our republic.

    Late stages of America…been going down the way since Wilson and FDR

    1. “been going down the way since Wilson and FDR”

      Aka “the progressive era”

    2. +10000000000

  24. I wish we got to ask Mr. Boehm questions about things he seems to take for granted.

    Like, what makes you think Trump is authoritarian?

    What’s so bad about populism? Isn’t that what democracy’s supposed to be about? The results may be good or bad, usually mixed, from our or anybody else’s point of view, but the -ism in this case doesn’t specify an outcome.

    And what the fuck are “principled Republicans”? You have an idea of what the GOP’s principles are, I guess, but who are you to impose your standard when they judge themselves by their own?

    1. “Trump is authoritarian” because Leftists Always Project.

      He’s just pissed that Trump is thwarting Globalist rule.

      1. “Trump is authoritarian” because Leftists Always Project. – WINNER!!

        The left, “Trump is an authoritarian so vote for one of our ‘top’ leaders. One of which fully supports the political ideology of Hitler and the other will dictate how much soda-pop you can drink and how.”

  25. Instead of destroying the political gatekeepers, we’ve merely handed the keys to the populists.

    Uhm, yeah? I mean, you have the gatekeepers and you have everyone else. The populists are the people. Or are you one of those that think we should let elites have a bigger say in choosing a President?

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/02/18/fix-primaries-let-elites-decide/

    They changed the headline after outcry – but the URL is still the same.

  26. One has been consumed by a cult of personality built around a man who holds few of the ideological principles that, until recently, defined Republicanism.

    You’re talking about Bloomberg, right? The guy who was a Democrat, then a Republican, and now a Democrat again. The guy who’s only principles are ‘the poors need to be controlled – by me’.

  27. Politics has changed a lot in past decade. It is good to see what will be the next face of American politics.
    eAskme how

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  29. “If you’re a libertarian, independent, or anyone else who operates outside and around the two major parties…”

    “But what I’d hope to see from the hollowing out of the two major parties is the creation of an environment where a greater set of political ideas can flourish. That, so far at least, has not happened.”

    —————————

    It hasn’t happened because libertarians like you don’t get involved in the mainstream parties. Things don’t go your way by themselves. The parties go the directions the primary bases push them towards. If the primary bases are made of a bunch of populists, then the parties will get more populist. If libertarians keep thinking they’re above mainstream politics and won’t deign get in there and push them to their preferred direction unless they perfectly match their views, then the two parties will keep not reflecting libertarian politics. And libertarians will keep using that as an excuse that “the system is broken” while feeling smugly superior for not getting in the arena (and wondering why things aren’t going their way in said arena).

    The squeaky wheel gets the grease, and the world belongs to those who show up. True in life, true in politics.

    1. And I mean “squeaky” politically, as in showing up to vote for the guy closest to your liking, not just decrying the situation in punditry.

      And give me a break that Trump really changed the Republican Party all that much! Less taxes, less regulations, pro-gun, pro-life, anti-immigration… it’s same old, same old. With perhaps the exception of trade. Fiscal conservatism has been dead long before Bush 43, and won’t come back until the lenders stop wanting to lend Uncle Sam.

    2. Why do you assume that political discourse must happen within a duopoly? No country on Earth – with the exception of Nigeria – forces that on its citizens. And the only reason Nigeria forces that is because they have an antsy military that doesn’t understand political argument, doesn’t see itself as subject to civilian politics, and that has a long history of staging coups.

      Yes – I know that the Dems and Reps have rigged the system so only they can meaningfully participate or win. But that rigging IS THE FUCKING PROBLEM. And obviously there’s no fucking way that you can have a political discussion about that from within those two parties.

  30. The primary reason Libertarians will never be a real political party is that they’re too busy alienating everyone else and missing the point of most arguments to convince anyone to vote for their usually incompetent candidates.

  31. The present mess of our political parties rather nicely exemplifies what our Founders feared: interposing party and party loyalty between the electorate and those that govern.
    And their judgment of Trump (and how he is dealing with the Republican Party as well as governing) would likely be favorable … but otherwise aghast at how far distant we’ve come from the limited and defined government envisioned by our Constitution.

  32. What he means is the one-party masquerading as two…the illusion of a choice.

    It’s all such bullshit.

    “Alex, give me ‘Crumbling Empires’ for $400 please…”

  33. Hi…
    I’m Elena gillbert.That is some nice false equivalency there. The Dems have their issues but they haven’t been taken over by fascist conspiracy theorists. If we want to say both parties are “melting down” then the Dems are like 3 Mile Island and the Republicans are like 500,000 Chernobyls happening at once.
    you can also read more….click here https://itnederland.zohosites.eu/blogs/post/hoe-hp-envy-printer-4500-foutcode-oxc4eb827f-te-repareren

  34. So “Libertarians” can’t have a fair choice as long as Rand Paul runs in the “Republican” party??!!??!! So the label is more important than the ideology or what??!!??!!

  35. The Democrat Party is so screwed up. One of “their” top candidates is not a registered Democrat (Bernie), and one’s electoral experience is as a Republican (Bloomberg).

    1. Not nearly as screwed up as the Republican Party which is now led by a morally debased malignant narcissist.

      1. I suppose you think the very definition of the U.S.; The Constitution – is also, “a morally debased malignant narcissist.” I mean after all you’d have to if your going to label one of the most Constitutional presidents we’ve had in the last century as one.

  36. The two-party system isn’t going anywhere so long as our elections are 50% + 1 vote wins the election.

    At best, we could see one of the top two parties collapse and be replaced by a new party, but that won’t be the Libertarians. It’ll still be the two-sides-of-the-same-coin centrist mega-party that we have now. And the centrists aren’t libertarian. They like to tax, spend, borrow, and make war.

    1. Spoiler votes that change the laws are what WIN elections.

  37. Eric should bone up on subsidies and spoiler votes. After JFK was splattered for enforcing court orders against weaponized racial collectivism, the Wallace and LeMay Klanbake sucked most votes out of the Dems. Nixon got the job, Wallace was riddled out of the
    next campaign and the Nixon Anti-Libertarian Law of 1971 pays tax money for looter media to whore after non-libertarian parties. Therefore we are back to 1930s fascist v. communist politics except for the 80% per year increase in LP vote share since Faith-Based Bush asset-forfeiture Crash and Depression. Was Eric’s article submitted in crayon?

  38. It really amazes that still people think the two party system can somehow just go away.

    It can’t, it the natural result of our winner-take-all electoral system. All a third party does is split the vote and hand the election to the least desired candidate so even if party self-destructs a new two party system will emerge.

    The only way to get rid of the two party system is to reform our electoral system into some sort of run-off system.

  39. GenoS, “It’s so unfair that sports have primary games that lead into a championship game! We need to just throw ALL teams out on the field at the same time and see which team scores the most points.”

  40. “But the Two-Party System Remains Strong.”

    YUP! Thanks to Plurality Voting which leads to a political duopoly! The only way to allow for a free market in polling is to replace PV with Score Voting (aka: Range Voting) — the voting system used in every other aspect of polling except for politics! 😎

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