2016 is 1988


Perhaps because my early political consciousness was formed mainly from Bloom County comic strips, the potential analogies between this presidential cycle and 1988 seem striking to me. A second term president is set to be replaced by a seasoned and well-known member of their administration (HRC/GHWB), but that anointed successor has trouble garnering the trust of their own party. Against the incumbent party is set a series of relatively indistinguishable establishment figures from the opposition party, along with a single dynamic firebrand of identity politics (Jesse Jackson/Donald Trump.) Eventually, the firebrand loses the nomination to one of the faceless crowd, who loses to the anointed successor. The losing party regroups by becoming less ideologically rigid (Democratic Leadership Council/However GOP reacts in 2017-2018) and then nominates a flawed but politically adroit consensus figure in the next cycle (Bill Clinton/Unknown 2020 GOP nominee.) Meanwhile, the identity politics that the firebrand unleashes becomes a more central part of the reformed party’s make-up, and paves way for a later candidate who makes use of explicit calls to racial identity while maintaining establishment appeal (Obama/Who Knows).5q2bamz



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