Is Donald Trump the Next Jimmy Carter?

Is Donald Trump the Next Jimmy Carter?
AP Photo/Suzanne Vlamis

Donald Trump was the first Republican to win Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin since 1988. Combined with Republican victories in Congress and a large majority of statehouses, it is tempting to see his victory as a transformation of the political order. Some political scientists, however, are skeptical. Julia Azari of Marquette University makes a compelling case in Vox that Trump is more likely to represent the last gasp of a dying regime, much as Jimmy Carter did before him. In Azari's interpretation, Trump and Carter might be polar opposites as human beings, but their presidencies are in a similar place politically, defined by outsiders trying to keep a fraying political coalition together.

 

There is some truth to this analysis. I certainly don't think Trump's win means a new period of national dominance by the Republican Party. But a Trump loss in 2020 should not be seen as evidence of a new Democratic era either. Rather, what we may be seeing is a suspension of the kind of regime politics Azari is describing. Instead of one dominant party setting the terms and a minority party governing within its paradigm, we're in the midst of a new period of competition between increasingly polarized parties.

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