Is New York the Beginning of the Beginning?

Is New York the Beginning of the Beginning?

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

When the 2016 primary election season came to New York and neither party yet had a definitive nominee, New Yorkers once again felt special. Not that the denizens of the Big Apple need anything to make them feel special, nevertheless with both the Republicans and Democrats still without a nominee, it was a very unusual event.

For all intents and purposes except for the shouting New York appears to have decided the nominees. Not that the campaigning is over—it will probably continue through California for both parties—but it is beginning to look like the November election will be decided by whether more people hate Hillary or Donald; and New York fixed the slates yesterday. What remains to be decided is who their running mates will be.

For Ted Cruz the good news is that he will not be losing the general election in 2016 making him one of the leading Republican candidates for 2020.  This is likely despite the fact that by 2020 his home state of Texas could conceivably actually be a blue state!

For Bernie in 2020 he will be 78; so he is a most unlikely candidate in that election. His current campaign will fund him through to the convention but he has three critical questions to answer. Will he continue to escalate his anti-Hillary rhetoric to the end or will draw back? Will he publically and enthusiastically—when the time comes—agree to support the Democratic nominee and urge his minions, especially young people, to rally behind Clinton? Finally, will he acknowledge the great success he achieved in moving the discussion within the Democratic Party and recognize that by itself as a significant achievement? This in fact is also the challenge for the leaders of the Democratic Party who understand that his agenda will not pass Congress even if the Party succeeds in taking the Senate and even maybe the House.  

For the Republican Party the challenge presented by Trump’s looming nomination is far more critical. It cuts directly to the GOP’s very identity going forward. At the moment there are three Republican models: a declining centrist moderate model typified by Senator Susan Collins and maybe a handful of other Members of Congress; a hardline conservative model characterized by Cruz and many Republican elected officials; and an eclectic model epitomized by Trump which appears at the moment to be all over the ideological map.  

These contrasting streams and their supporters could conceivably generate a bitter fight during for the Party’s soul and its future during the meetings of the Republican Party Platform Committee and subsequently on the Convention floor. (While some controversies also are likely during the Democratic Party’s Platform Committee meetings, unless the Sanders’ delegates fight on every clause, much of their differences will probably be compromised.)

There is a key and important difference with what Bernie and Trump have done, however, to their respective parties. Sanders will probably return to the Senate to promote his agenda. In defeat he will see the Democrats recognize that among the Party’s rank-and file there is a demand for a more left-leaning direction for the Party and the country. A Trump nominee—as was seen already last night–is ready to ratchet down the histrionics and be more conventional and serious—at least for the moment. This does not mean that Trump would ever be willing to listen and follow advice—other than his own counsel–were he elected President. 

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