No More Status Quo

By: Julia Gutsch

There is no question that radical changes have been occurring within the American political system over the past few years. It is hard to argue against the claim that this change in politics is due, in part, to the public’s frustration with the status quo, that is the political elite or establishment. The way that the American public has demonstrated this dissatisfaction with the establishment was by electing President Donald Trump into office. This displeasure with the political elite will likely persist for the next few years, which will make the election of 2020 very difficult and important for the Republican and Democratic party if they hope to get a new president into office.

The election of 2016 reflected a trend that we have not observed over the past 30 to 40 years. Both President Trump and Bernie Sanders were able to gain about 45% of their respective parties’ support, a significant result according to Bill Kristol, Editor in Chief of The Weekly Standard.  Both of these candidates were running against the establishment, embodied by Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush. So, these two candidates’ notable success signified the dissatisfaction that both sides of the aisle currently have with the political elite. This frustration that was illustrated in the election, has, according to Kristol, only continued and is perpetuated by everything that Trump does and says in office. So, if the Republican and Democratic parties wish to discover how to be successful in the 2020 election in removing President Trump from office, they will have to determine what demographics are feeling this resentment towards the political elite and understand how they can change this.

Matt Kibbe, President of Freedom Works argued that “a hostile takeover [is] happening within the Republican Party. The senior management of the GOP has failed its key shareholders, abandoning the founding vision of individual freedom, fiscal responsibility, and constitutionally’” (Kibbe, 131). Some prominent Republicans are not happy that the party has strayed from these fundamental ideas. Tony Fratto, former Bush Press Secretary, explains this phenomenon as well, stating that many Americans see bipartisanship as an abandonment of the fundamental ideas of their party. Americans, according to Fratto, think that bipartisanship is the result of a shadowy political elite making back-handed deals of coercion without any transparency. Michael Steele, former RNC chairman, told Washington Center students how this distrust of the establishment has, in fact, even restructured the entire party. Typically, any president will change their political party in some way, although their influence may not be sustainable or significant. Trump, on the other hand, was able to harness such strong feelings of resentment for the political elite that he has completely taken over the Republican party, according to Steele.

The next question then, for both parties, is how to harness the voting power of a dissatisfied electorate in 2020 to remove President Trump from office. Although it is still rather unclear exactly how this can be accomplished and would necessitate a rather intense analysis of theories, it is easy to identify the demographics that were overlooked in 2016. Steele acknowledged that the states — such as Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Ohio — that narrowly and surprisingly were won by Trump represent a group of people that feel they are not having their voice heard and represented in the government. Trump was able to capitalize on this resentment to run against the establishment, and ultimately win the election. Therefore, targeting the middle of the nation in the 2020 election and addressing their disgruntlement with the direction of the Democratic and Republican parties is the greatest tool to remove President Trump from office.

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