Ross Douthat argues that because of Trump there will be an inevitable schism in the GOP which will result in a third party, though it may not be formally organized as such. Most of his speculation centers on a third party led by Trump if Trump bolts the GOP after losing the nomination.
Two quick takes:
- Ego-driven third parties never last beyond or outgrow their leaders (see Ross Perot and George Wallace). Inevitably, these parties cost one or the other major party votes and elections for one or two election cycles, and then die out. The members of the third party then become disaffected with politics until some new nutcase leader arises. Essentially, if Trump loses the nomination he will continue to siphon votes from the GOP for years until he loses interest or is out of the picture, at which time his followers will find themselves in the political wilderness.
- If Trump loses the nomination his rhetoric will increasingly go off the rails and his behavior will become increasingly erratic as he seeks to continue gaining attention for himself, even though his light and allure will have dimmed. He will become a caricature of the caricature he already is. Those that follow him into the wilderness will as a result become disaffected from the normal political system with more extreme results than seen with Perot and Wallace supporters. Ross Douthat ends his piece by stating that the GOP will have to find a way to heal the breach if it ever wants to become a major political force again. It is quite possible that after Trump, this will be a breach that can’t be healed. Indeed, Trump may end up leading his people so far into the deep end that no other political party will be comfortable ever asking for their support.