One thing the last elections have shown us is the failure of political parties. In retrospect the old smoke-filled room method of selecting candidates by party insiders worked better than the new open primary system. Primaries have pushed both the left and the right to choose more extreme candidates. Since only one-party votes in primaries, the extremists choose candidates that do not appeal to moderates, but when the election comes, you have two extreme candidates, one on the left and one on the right, with no moderate for independent centrists to vote for. The biggest threat that any politician can make against another of the same party is “We’re going to primary you.”
This split occurs in almost every election from county commissioner to President. The country is certainly divided between almost irreconcilable Republican and Democratic electorates, but when each party send Congressmen or Senators from its extreme wings to Congress, the split in Washington becomes even worse.
The biggest failure was in the 2016 presidential primaries. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were two terrible candidates. Hillary had deep contempt for ordinary Americans. Her Democratic party believe that ordinary Americans were too stupid, lazy, and uneducated to help themselves, and the Democratic Party had to take care of them. Her contempt for ordinary Americans was evident in everything she said and did. Trump on the other hand appealed to ordinary Americans because they were stupid, lazy, and uneducated. They loved him because he didn’t talk down to them or disrespect them like Hillary did.
The primary in 2020 made Biden in effect the second black President. He is not as elitist as Hillary, but more important the black community united to support him over Trump. Trump did not lose the election because of fraud, but because the black community in the US voted as a block from Biden. Biden was doing poorly in the primaries until Jim Clyburn helped him win South Carolina, by whipping up the black vote in the South Carolina primary behind Biden. It’s another example of how small, extremist primaries decide huge national elections. Sometimes, Iowa or New Hampshire primaries decide elections; in 2020 South Carolina did.
Trump complained that he was defeated by fraud in the elections, but in fact by legal standards there was not enough fraud to justify reopening the elections. The problem was that blacks voted as a block, with 90% or more voting for Biden. I think the mail-in ballots issue did work against Trump. Blacks who might not have voted ordinarily voted by mail because it was easy. If there were no mail-in ballots, Trump might have won, but the mail-in ballots were legal.
If the US is to calm down the extremist rhetoric around politics, an important step is to reform the political parties and the primary system. I think we might be better going back to the old, smoke-filled room method of having party leaders choose candidates, if only because it looks like nothing could be worse than the current system. But this would only work if the party leaders were decent men who would choose candidates who they thought would be good for the country.
Of course, another big problem is money in elections, no matter who gets nominated. The Citizens United case allowing unlimited spending by corporations in campaigns. This has made money the be all and the end all of campaigning. The nominees may be awful, but everybody wants to be on record as financially supporting whoever wins in order to get favorable treatment for their pet issues.