Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, Millennials And The Potential Rise Of A Third Party

Can a third party finally flourish in America?
Pictured: The two men most likely to lead fringe third-party splits.

Pictured: The two men most likely to lead fringe third-party splits.

In American politics, the term “third party” is often given to any party other than Democrat or Republican. For example, Greens and Libertarians are called “third party” voters despite the obvious numbering issue we have going on.

That being said, neither of the third parties (stick with me) wield any significant political power. In fact, only two senators identify as neither Republican nor Democrat: Angus King (I-ME) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

Hello, welcome to the segue.

As the title may have tipped you off, Bernie Sanders represents one of the best possibilities for a significant third party in the United States. He ran for president as a Democrat and caucuses with the Democrats in the Senate (as does King), but is significantly more progressive and left-wing than mainstream Democrats.

Sanders pushed many left-wing views that centrist Democrats have avoided, such as a “Medicare For All” system and debt-free college. He also aggressively attacked Wall Street and pharmaceutical companies, which have traditionally bankrolled many Democrats.

Given no real chance against mainstay Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries, Sanders shocked the political world and gained a real grassroots sort of following. While it wasn’t enough to win him the nomination, it’s a group that has not gone away.

Millennials (18–35) and first-time voters made up a large portion of his base and, while many eventually would vote for Clinton, these are people who do not consider themselves Democrats. Like Sanders, they worked with Democrats simply because they’re not Republicans

Oh, look at that, another segue!

Even Gen X considers themselves mostly independent.

Even Gen X considers themselves mostly independent.

According to Pew Research, 41 percent of Millennial voters do not consider themselves Democrats or Republicans. In fact, that 41 percent makes up the plurality, giving independent voters among Millennials a seven-point edge over Democrats (34 percent) and a 19-point edge over Republicans (22 percent).

Since 1992, that puts independents at plus-seven, Democrats at plus-1, and Republicans at minus-five among Millennials.

Clearly, this is a trend that isn’t losing momentum any time soon, despite a slight dip in those calling themselves independent for a highly-partisan 2016 election that likely proves an aberration.

That brings us to the least-obvious contributor to a third party: Donald Trump.

It would appear as though Trump and the Republicans are a united front in their valiant efforts to bring back pollution, unregulated banking, and taking health insurance from sick people — and they absolutely are — but Trump’s base represents a totally different era of “Republican.”

Well, by “different era” I mean just recycled version of the 1950’s, but I think we’re on the same page. Don’t get nitpicky on me.

What we see from these Trump Republicans (Trumplicans?) is a group of people even further to the right than the Bernie Democrats (Berniecrats?) are to the left.

You know the people. The frogs on Twitter, the people who words like “cuck” or “beta-male” and usually describe themselves as “not politically correct!!!” which really just means “racist.”

But I digress. You know the people.

An example of the difference we see can be found in the recent rollout of the ironically-named “American Health Care Act.” Mainstream Republicans are fawning over the bill while those to the far right hate it because it leaves too many people with insurance, I guess.

Breitbart writers and readers make up a large portion of the far right Trumplican (TM) movement.

The aforementioned site has even gone to such lengths as outright attacking not only the bill itself, but its author Paul Ryan. They recently released leaked audio of Ryan distancing himself from Trump before the election, upon which I assume Ryan was immediately deemed a beta-male cuckservative.

Between Donald Trump splitting Republicans, Bernie Sanders splitting Democrats, and the rise in Millennials who already don’t view themselves as belonging to either party, the time is ripe for a third party (or two) to take root in the United States.

As the trends show, Democrats and Republicans are losing their hold on the voting population. As the parties both continue to disappoint even their base, the desire for a party of their own grows.

It’s still possible the Berniecrats and Trumplicans are simply remembered as vocal sects of their parties, a la the Tea Party, but the number of disillusioned Millennials only grows. As the parties move further from the center, what we will likely see first are the fringes break off into their own parties. From there, the desire for a centrist party likely takes root among independents.

What we’re left with likely looks something like Liberals, Democrats, Centrists, Republicans, and Conservatives. Branding isn’t exactly my thing, but you get the idea.

The final question is, should this all come to pass, are we better or worse off with four or five parties instead of two? To answer that, I leave you with this from John Adams:

There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.

And George Washington:

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.

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