Will the Republican Party be able to recover from nominating Trump as its 2016 presidential candidate? originally appeared on Quora – the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.
Answer by Edward Conway, on Quora.
Yes, it is possible for the Republican Party to recover from Trump. Further, drastic and serious defeats are the engine of change and improvement.
It is often overlooked in politics, but defeats are vitally important to political parties, as this is the means by which changes happen: old ideas and positions are rejected, old leaders pushed out. Without defeat, there is no power vacuum at the top, no changes, and thus no renewal. The result of endless victories is inevitably stagnation and decay.
Elections are choices made by the voters as a whole, deciding which person, platform, or party they prefer for a particular position. Losing leads those who lose to either leave politics, which frees up space for newcomers, or change their positions, which leads to improvement and adaptation.
In my view, the best way to understand politics in democracies is through the lens of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution: politicians compete to survive. Those that have adapted to their environment best live on, and their adaptations are adopted by other politicians seeking to survive. But this adaptation is only one piece of the puzzle: for evolution to successfully improve the species as a whole, significant numbers of individuals without the best adaptations need to lose.
Thus, for a party to evolve and grow, there needs to be losses, just as for the herd to be safe, there must be predators to remove the weak. There is pain, and consequences for behavior that is not suited to the environment, whether that environment is political or biological.
Trump, by basing a campaign around hatred, fear, and insulting those who are different, is gathering together those individuals who support these behaviors and putting these behaviors to the test. If he wins, then these behaviors will be judged successful, and other politicians will follow suit. If he loses, then these behaviors will be associated with the losses, and other politicians will shun his views and behavior.
Assuming a loss, the Republican Party will respond by pointing to those who advocated fear and hatred, and saying “You made us lose. Get out of the party.”
Sooner or later, this will happen. Eventually, the desire of the party to win, and the desire of individual politicians to survive, will overpower the few who are committed to behavior that leads to losses.
The bigger Trump’s loss, the quicker this will happen. Electoral losses thin the herd of the weakest members, but the herd remains. In politics and in the animal kingdom, the urge to survive will always lead some to behaviors that lead to their survival. Those that fail to follow this will be wiped out by predators or elections.
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