Article Title:Trumpwreck?
Author or Credit:Craig Young
Published on:31st May 2016 - 10:19 am
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Story ID:18326
Text:What might happen if Donald Trump ends up heavily losing the US election due to a fractured Republican Party? Particularly to religious social conservatism? Religious social conservatives are divided about Donald Trump. Some have embraced him despite his lukewarm and vacillating opportunist embrace of partial social conservatism, while to others, he is insufficiently committed to their anti-abortion, anti-gay hardcore agenda. He has kowtowed to an anti-abortion litmus test for US Supreme Court justices to fill the hole left by the unexpected death of Justice Antonin Scalia. He has said that he will reverse federal and state recognition of marriage equality, but he continuously vacillates about opposition to transgender rights. Some Republican fiscal conservatives are weighing up whether or not to vote for the US Libertarian Party to punish their original home for selecting someone who may prove to be an unelectable buffoon on the campaign trail. If that split vote does eventuate, it could damage Trump's election chances, throwing the race to Hillary Clinton. Whether current opinion polls showing a dead heat competition for Trump and Clinton will continue is a moot point. Clinton is a disciplined career politician who has held public office. Trump isn't. It is telling that despite the withdrawal of John Kasich and Ted Cruz and the continued presence of Bernie Sanders until the June 7 round of Democratic presidential primaries, Trump hasn't been able to exploit his momentary tactical advantage. It would make it difficult to impossible for the US Christian Right to impose its 'bully pulpit' agenda, which would have certain consequences. It would mean that their pressure groups would have to focus on the United States context. They might win a few backyard victories in some southern US states, but then they would be faced with a federal Democrat response, probably with Hillary Clinton as president for two terms. It would mean that Clinton has added time to make appointments to the US Supreme Court, insuring that marriage equality remains safe, and that the US Christian Right's rollback of abortion rights could be reversed. Much depends on the scale of any Republican defeat in November 2016. If it carried the US Senate with it, then Clinton's task would be much easier. It's starting to look like that- former Tea Party leader Sarah Palin is a Trump supporter and is targeting Republican chair Paul Ryan, a Trump opponent and both are religious social conservatives. Of course, this would have some implications offshore as well. It might mean that the US Christian Right is unable to interfere with the Australian marriage equality plebiscite result, or any New Zealand or Canadian legislative reforms related to transgender rights, gay 'historic offences' repeal or comprehensive anti-bullying legislation. Granted, Family First, REAL Women of Canada and other pressure groups would be able to parrot propaganda, but the situation within the United States would not provide sufficient guarantees of success, and would steadily diminish over time as Clinton's tenure continues. Sadly, it probably wouldn't be enough to cause the closure of Family First, as there is no evidence of continuing US Christian Right funds being channelled to our local obnoxious pipsqueak pressure group. However, it would probably need to tighten its focus to areas like cannabis decriminalisation or euthanasia law reform, where the odds weren't against their eventual success. It is possible that if the Republican fiscal and social conservative voter coalition is fractured beyond repair after the Trump campaign, future Republican presidential contenders might be forced toward the political mainstream. This would effectively mean that the Christian Right is sundered from pragmatic political anchorage and drifts off into a quagmire of unelectable extremist political positions,conspiracy theories and fringe candidates- much like the tiresome string of MMP-spawned unelectable hardline New Zealand fundamentalist parties from Christian Heritage to the Conservatives. Unlike New Zealand, there is no mass movement for proportional representation and electoral reform, which would make such a party viable in the US context. There is also the question of the endurance, magnitude and depth of any Republican schism. Would it be similar to that within the British Conservative Party, which kept the Tories out of power for thirteen years? If so, by 2024, we would face a decidedly different context. If Family First still exists, it would be more tightly focused on anti-drug and anti-euthanasia politics. Even then, it would face considerable opposition, especially if the euthanasia issue starts to acquire a higher profile, as it is currently doing within Canada and New Zealand, and pro-euthanasia lobby groups acquire greater cohesion, numerical strength and strategic focus. Much would also depend on whether or not the rate of Christian religious observance continues to drop. Indeed, anti-LGBTI politics might be struck off their agenda. Let us hope so. Craig Young - 31st May 2016    
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