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No Matter Who Wins Election 2024, a Political Reckoning Is Coming

The soul of the nation is on the line, they tell us - and they just might be right.

The consensus is that this November’s presidential election will be a seismic event no matter who wins. Each side is putting everything on the line, declaring this contest a “battle for the soul of the nation.” The advocates for each party could well be right, but not necessarily for the reasons they suspect.

The Lesson Learned Trope

In the aftermath of defeat comes a common refrain that the losing side will listen to the voters, regroup, and come back stronger than ever, having learned the requisite lessons. However, this political rehabilitation more often than not involves slight rebranding and surface-level promises that fall by the wayside when the next election season begins. Political parties are creatures of habit deeply entrenched in their ways.

But not always.

As Liberty Nation’s Senior Political Analyst Tim Donner recently noted on LN’s flagship radio show:

“There are a couple of prominent examples of this in recent political history. In 1972, when George McGovern ran against Richard Nixon – who was seeking a second term – he was so far out on the left, he actually lost the election by 24% in the popular vote … It was a disastrous year for the Democratic Party … But in ’76, it went hard to the center with Jimmy Carter.

 

“And the same thing happened with Michael Dukakis, who was just destroyed in the 1988 election by George H.W. Bush. The Democratic Party headed straight to the center with Bill Clinton.”

This leaves us with the ultimate question: Will the in-built hubris of either the Democrats or the Republicans allow them to engage in structural introspection?

Questions for the Left

When Joe Biden was elected, he gained the office on the back of a once-in-a-generation pandemic that stretched the fabric of social cohesion. Added to this was the so-called “racial reckoning” that came in the wake of George Floyd’s death. The nation was desperate for a return to normalcy, and that is what only a five-decade Washington, DC, fixture could offer. But that was not what was delivered.

In fact, far from being a return to the steady road of Beltway policy, Biden governed as though he were gifted a transformational mandate. Every far-left progressive idea was offered a seat at the table with a hefty pile of taxpayer cash just waiting to be exploited. The voices of the fringe – even those who denigrate the nation’s founding documents and constitutional norms – were amplified well beyond their natural resonance. Why else would the vast majority of the populace be dissatisfied with the current track of the country?

According to the RealClearPolitics average, a whopping 75% of Americans think the country is presently on the “wrong track.” This is not just Republicans out to thumb their noses at Biden, nor is it solely the all-important independents. The numbers indicate that Democrat voters – and likely a significant chunk of them – are unhappy with what their vote brought them. In short, they didn’t vote for the infusion of progressive policy.

Questions for the Right

Donald Trump is currently the ideological focal point of the GOP. For the last eight years, America First has been the clarion call for the majority of traditional Republican voters, and in the background, many of those who rejected Trumpism have waited quietly (and some not so quietly). Should Trump lose in November, the party will have to ask itself which direction it should take.

GettyImages-2056067740 Nikki Haley

Nikki Haley (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

It seems highly improbable that the GOP would seek to continue along the Make America Great Again path if Trump were to lose for a second time. The shift would most likely be toward a more centrist platform – possibly in the mold of Nikki Haley. After all, she lasted longer in the primary battle than some very serious candidates. But what happens to the issues that have animated the Trump base over the last two elections?

The rallying cries of Trump’s first campaign were “build the wall” and “drain the swamp.” A swift look at the record-high illegal border crossings suggests that he did not complete the former, and the latter is also far from a done deal. The question that the Republican Party leadership needs to answer is whether it will drop these two pillars as a kind of symbolic expiation of Trump.

A Third Election Possibility

Lessons may well be learned by the losing party this November, but does that guarantee voters will come flocking back?

Independent voters are the fastest-growing bloc, with more and more people rejecting the two-party back and forth. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is currently polling a little over 10% nationally, with the majority of his support likely coming from disaffected Democrats and independent voters. This is almost certainly not going to be his year. However, 2028 could be wide-open territory for another well-funded candidate who can run on a centrist platform without the baggage of having to explain to voters that he or she has “learned” from their mistakes.

The electoral tide shifts from left to right and back again and eventually self-rectifies to the middle. The voting public appears blessed with near-infinite patience and an abundance of forgiveness for political parties that can learn from their mistakes.

Read More From Mark Angelides

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