“Party primaries were traditionally bulwarks against demagogues rising in American politics”

“We’ve got this online media where the profits are driven by controversy and clicks,” Sarah Rumpf, a former Breitbart writer, told Vox. “It’s just an activism problem in general, where it’s easier to fundraise and easier to get members when you can declare an emergency, when you can declare a crisis, when you can identify an enemy.”

This helps explain the unified party support for Donald Trump. Republican officeholders are terrified that if they don’t support him, or are seen as in any way contributing to Clinton’s election, they’ll face the wrath of their conservative base and be defeated in the primary challenges that the Tea Party used to such devastating effect in 2010 and 2012. Paul Ryan got a taste of this after distancing himself from Trump after the release of the Access Hollywood tape: His popularity plummeted, and a majority of Republicans said they preferred to see Trump representing the party than Ryan.

So here, then, is the key failure point in modern American politics, and observing it in action requires looking no further than the Republican Party: Voters’ dislike of their own party has broken the primary process, but fear of the opposition has guaranteed unified party support to the nominee. That means whoever manages to win a flawed competition dominated by the angriest, most terrified partisans ends within spitting distance of the presidency.

Party primaries were traditionally bulwarks against demagogues rising in American politics. Now they are the method by which they will rise.

Ezra Klein, “Donald Trump’s success reveals a frightening weakness in American democracy”, Vox (7 November 2016) [http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2016/11/7/13532178/donald-trump-american-democracy-weakness]