Op-Ed: With the Conventions Over, a Reflection on the Two Major Political Parties

gop convention

(By Chris Cruz). Both Republican and Democratic National Conventions are over, with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton accepting their respective party’s nominations for president of the United States.

In Philadelphia, Clinton was the conservative candidate in comparison to her political opponent, Bernie Sanders, who had an army of supporters protesting outside city hall and the Pennsylvania Convention Center. While it may appear that Sanders helped push Clinton to the left, the convention proved the opposite. Clinton’s campaign seemed to orchestrate the schedule of speakers so that moderates and conservatives who can’t vote for Trump would move to her side. Clinton used national security experts, like Marine General John Allen, to promote her willingness to defend the country, while also using former Reagan White House official Doug Elmets to point to Trump and say, “You are no Reagan.”

At the same time, Green Party candidate Jill Stein tried to make a case for Sanders’ supporters to move to her side. Like Ralph Nader before her — when he served as the Green Party nominee  in the 2000 race — could Stein ultimately cost Clinton votes in the general election? Or could candidate Gary Johnson raise the profile of the Libertarian Party? We’ll find out in a few months.

Outside either convention’s podium, protesters were abound: open-carry supporters on Cleveland’s streets; in Philadelphia, a demonstration calling for a boycott of Israel; and the myriad of groups pushing for their own causes at both cities.

It’s telling that among the New York politicians who spoke on Wednesday, the more progressive candidate, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, spoke much earlier while former mayor Michael Bloomberg spoke during the primetime schedule. Bloomberg told the crowd in Philadelphia that although he had much to disagree with Clinton, he believed she was the best option for the country come November.

Yet, in Cleveland, the RNC seemed to do the opposite. Rather than move further to the right, as some have interpreted, Trump’s nomination represents the Republican Party’s move to the left. The party still maintains aspects of conservatism, with its talking points of national security, closed borders and religious freedom. But Trump has also said that he was pro-choice, then switched to being pro-life, until finally settling to being pro-life, with exceptions. Trump said he would raise taxes on the wealthy in May before backing off those comments. He also told Fox News talk show host Bill O’Reilly on Tuesday that he would support raising the minimum wage to $10 per hour.

This is a departure from the normal stances of the Republican Party, which has come under attack during Trump’s campaign. Trump’s populism and rhetoric against the “establishment” has been honey for people who have felt lost in their own party. Now, that party has chosen to side with Trump on his new platform.

Thus, the shifts in platform at the two respective conventions don’t represent parties shifting further apart on the political landscape, but rather the two parties meeting closer to the middle. This is what made Sanders’ supporters protest during the DNC, especially after an email leak by the Democratic National Committee revealed that the committee favored Clinton; it is also what made so-called “anti-Trump” forces try to push a rule change that would allow delegates to vote their conscience during the RNC. These voices were virtually pushed to the sideline by the end of the conventions, making them the fringe rather than voices from within.

And what of the fate of those who went against the party line and their supporters? Will voters be kind two years from now, whether Texans keep Ted Cruz as a senator? Will Sanders’ constituents in Vermont be forgiving should he seek re-election as he returns as an independent?

Still, it’s difficult to say whether the moves by the two parties will be good or bad, or whether this will begin a third-party’s rise to prominence in American politics. But those who feel betrayed by their parties’ choice for nominee, may have left their respective party for good.

Chris Cruz covers politics at JP Updates. 

NOTE: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of JP.

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07/29/2016 12:56 PM by Chris Cruz

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