The Party of Lincoln is dead.
The last ballot has been counted, a final nail in the coffin of a political institution that has endured for generations, but what many see as a victory for the American left is also a question of what will fill the void.
The Old Guard
The election of 2016 has revealed two distinct factions that once made the united right. On one side of the coin are the old guard Republicans, the last of the regressive holdouts like John McCain and the Bushes whose limitless money, connections, and laissez faire attitudes have won them elections since the beginning of the party itself. One wonders, however, if the old guard can sustain itself on money alone, especially as its obvious class distinction falls out of favor with modern conservatives.
Which brings me to the second faction vying for control in a post-GOP world:
The Alt Right
Since the nomination of Barry Goldwater in the election of 1964, the right has pandered to a subset of the population fueled by bigotry and intolerance, giving a platform for voices like David Duke. Over the years, this subset has evolved into a unique force of militant, hyper-nationalist individuals determined to curtail what they view as a deterioration of their race and lifestyle.
Originally, these individuals were seen simply as racists who would eventually wither and take their ideology with them, However, we find that the internet era has given rise to a new breed of conservative, one that is unafraid and unashamed of its anti-integrationalist, patriarchal, brand of fascism, and indeed it wears the title as a badge of honor. Gone are the days of the backwoods Southern hicks, the intellectual right has returned, grown into an ever more daring and increasingly dangerous coterie of vigilantes, unbound and unswayed by facts, evidence, or the principles of classical liberalism on which the nation was founded.
The new right, if it wishes to maintain any semblance of political relevance or patriotism, must find a way to reclaim its ideology from the seeds of hatred that it so long allowed to fester in order to win elections. This is a battle for the very soul of conservatism. Will it continue to advocate for personal accountability, or will it be consumed by a dangerous and empowered sect of fascists?
The left, meanwhile, will have to employ new tactics if it wishes to continue pushing for multiculturalism and social justice. The burden will fall on millennials to find ways to combat ideological radicalization in an era when facts are as partisan as the news sources that interpret them, and misinformation is only a click and a url away.
Nicholas Lysiak is a graduate of Caldwell High School.