Thursday, February 25, 2016

Whoever wins the White House, the party establishment loses............

Whoever wins the White House, the party establishment loses

Democratic and Republican insiders could be left out in the cold come November.

WASHINGTON — As the primary elections winnow the field of presidential hopefuls, making it increasingly likely that Donald Trump will face Hillary Clinton in the general election, it is already clear that this bizarre campaign will be remembered for the collapse of the political establishment.

Whichever party loses the run for the White House will face a shambles that will make previous defeats look like a picnic. Even if the party wins, the establishment may be the loser.

If Trump, for instance, is nominated and wins — a result no one can exclude at this point — it will be a colossal failure for Republican Party leaders, who will quickly become persona non grata under a Trump presidency.

If Clinton clinches the Democratic nomination, it will be a victory for the party establishment, which has staked everything on her candidacy. But it could well turn out to be a Pyrrhic victory, because it will mark the party's rejection of the millions — especially young people — who will have voted for the insurgent candidacy of Bernie Sanders and his message of radical reform.

And yes, Clinton could then lose to Trump, despite the conventional wisdom within the Beltway that she is more "electable" than Sanders. Clinton's bear hug embrace of the Obama legacy may be a good strategy for the primaries but it could quickly become a liability in the general election.

Many of Sanders's supporters, who share his view of the current political system as irreparably corrupt, would vote for the other anti-establishment candidate, Trump. Many others would simply throw up their hands in disgust and stay home on Election Day. 

And if Clinton were to lose to Trump, it would wash the current party establishment down the drain with her.

Even if opposition to Trump would be enough to propel Clinton to victory, she would take office as a compromised candidate, her credibility largely in shreds. And that's if the FBI and Justice Department let her off the hook over the illegal handling of classified documents.

On the Democratic side, Sanders could conceivably pull off the "political upset" he has forecast. If he wins the nomination and goes on to win the general election, there would be a new wave of fresh faces in the Democratic leadership. Ditto if he were to lose the general election.

There's no need to scratch your head over this result. Unless you've been living under a rock for the past several years, or belong to the insular Beltway punditocracy, it's been obvious in high unfavorability ratings for Congress and the president that voters are frustrated and dissatisfied — and now very angry — with the political establishment.

It is not the year to run as the establishment candidate. And as for the rest of the crowned establishment in both parties, their heads, to paraphrase Shakespeare, should be lying uneasy.

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