Independent's Day & The 7th Party System
The world watches American Presidential elections so closely that there is a completely overwhelming, yet unwarranted sense of certainty about what is happening. I say unwarranted because American and international observers can be so steeped in the daily grind and jabber about politics yet miss the larger patterns. This is why we are usually surprised by who America chooses as President. There are signals now that Americans are leaning towards choosing two very surprising outcomes: the election of the first independent President and the simultaneous breakdown of the existing political party system. Almost anyone in American politics today will scoff as hard at this suggestion as they did when I began to argue in 2015 that Trump could and would become President. It was not a partisan view but a dispassionate appraisal of the political forces at work. Today, I see similar forces driving American politics into similarly shocking outcomes. Americans are abandoning politics and the political parties. Politicians are now attacking the party system from the inside. As a result, the United States may be about to elect a President who is independent of the existing two parties while simultaneously bringing the party system itself to an end.
This begins with disenchantment and the apartisan trend. Most Americans seem to be incredibly uncomfortable with the toxicity of American politics. They are dreading (according to the NYTs) having to choose, again, between two elderly men who each intensely annoy at least half the country. Now, both Trump and Biden are under investigation for corruption. I argued in 2020 that Tish James, the NY State Prosecutor, would maneuver Trump onto the witness stand and hope to land him in prison. That seemed impossible at the time. Now it’s happening. More recently, I also argued that the Hunter Biden scandal would result in investigations into President Biden too. That, too, seemed impossible. But, once the Hunter Biden plea deal broke down, the subpoenas became inevitable. They have now been issued, and the testimony is about to happen. So, America is not only facing two elderly candidates but the horrible prospect of two Presidents from both parties facing corruption investigations. The contest between the Trumpers and the “Never Trumpers” is so noisy and colorful that people have missed the silent majority of Americans who are simply leaving party politics altogether. Americans are quietly uncoupling from traditional political affiliations. They are becoming apartisan. They are looking for a place to shelter from the endless storm of politics. This opens the door for a historic Presidential election and the collapse of the 6th Party System. So, how does the country transition to the 7th Party System?
Most people have forgotten that America has seen its party system collapse five times. This is why the US is on its 6th Party system.
The First Party System: 1792 and 1824 Federalist Party (Founded by Alexander Hamilton) and the Democratic-Republican Party, founded by Thomas Jefferson.
The Second Party System: 1828 to 1852. Andrew Jackson Democrats and anti-Jackson Whigs led by Henry Clay.