Making Voting Great Again

Have seen and read many insightful minds discussing their concerns over the state of democracy, both here and abroad. Admittedly, Canada's southern neighbor and its continued  election chaos is where many point the finger.   

The Trump effect has hurt the U.S. in many ways, but I am not buying that he has hurt American Democracy. The very threat of another Trump term as President has awakened America out of its apathetic coma. 

When Trump ran in 2016, his team knew that with shifting demographics and immigration in the States, the Republicans were going to be hard pressed to win future elections.  The stories prior to the 2016 election said as much.

So the Trump team decided that in order to win, they had to court what Hillary Clinton famously referred to as the "deplorables". They figured this neglected group that few would pander, were a greater percentage of the population than many wanted to believe.  Trump dog whistled his way through the 2016 election campaign and rode the support of these new, now engaged voters. It was their suffrage that put him over the top in many battleground States. 

Fast forward to the 2020 election and the Democrats countered and put on a full court press to get their vote out. The result was the greatest voter turnout in U.S. history and one of the highest percentage turnouts of eligible voters in recent memory. For all his faults, Trump certainly did make voting great again. 

It wasn't too long ago that I sat in poli sci classes as professors lamented the apathy of voters and dismal election turnouts.  So in many ways the 2020 election should be celebrated because democracy won.  The pressing issue now is how to build on this engagement and use it as a source f0r good.   

It is quite shocking actually in a country of endless consumer choice, Americans still have to pick between only two parties or candidates.  This inadequacy of voter choice was tolerated by the voting class for years.  Going forward, this will no longer be the case. We are starting to see this take place as the dominant U.S. political parties evolve to embrace the changing electorate.

Look at what is going on at the Grand Ol' Party. The Republicans have already split, we're  just waiting to see who gets the Magas.  The party that expanded its tent to include those deplorables must now decide what to do with them. Currently, regardless of what many on the left would have you believe,  the vast majority of Republicans are not extremists. They do vehemently dislike the nanny state and the policies put forth, by what they believe are out of touch liberal elitists.  The decision they now face is clear. Republicans either denounce the liars and haters, or through association become them.  I still hold a faint hope that if Trump is ever convicted the GOP will  grow a spine and disqualify Trump from their nomination leaving him to take his supporters with him. Failing that, the old guard of the party will be left to establish a new brand identity. In many ways this has already begun and they already have a well known potential leader in Nikki Haley. 

Either way it's not a bad thing that more people, even haters, are politically engaged. This way they are at least out in the open and can have their ugly, marginal say. Once removed from the shadows and exposed politically, a period of reckoning and enlightenment can begin. They will soon see that while their views are extreme their numbers are not. I see this process unfolding similar to what we see in Canada with the emergence of the far right, PPC Party

The Democrats in the States are not immune to divisions in their ranks too. While I don't believe they will split like the Republicans I do see them venturing to the far left. President Biden seems to be the only one holding them to the middle and when he goes, expect the radicals in his party to take over.  This will give even more space for a middle road party to emerge and own the center. Again, this evolution should be embraced as it lets young progressive voices of new voters be heard rather than ignored. 

If Americans want to see how a multi- party system would play out it can look to its northern neighbor. I believe the greater number of distinct party choices that Canadians are offered makes our democracy more advanced. When choice is no longer an issue, a country like Canada can move onto improving its democracy to better reflect voter intent through electoral reforms. 

Thankfully, democracy in both countries has reawakened.  This energy should be directed toward needed change. The 2024 Presidential election can mark the start of this process with a new centrist Republican leader giving Americans the greater choice they crave at the top of the ballot.

We better hope the desire for power will put the wind in the sails of change. Otherwise this political energy could turn against democracy and that would be something to worry about.    

By: Gregory Cawsey