There is a reason why the term “divide and rule” (or sometimes ‘divide and conquer,’) has been used since the days of Ancient Greece all the way through to Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte during the French Revolution. Dividing the opposition is, without a doubt, the most common and effective political strategy known to man.
In the modern world, the best example of the term “divide and rule” can be used in the framework of Democratic elections. In America’s ‘First Past the Post’ voting system, the existence of two candidates from a similar political tradition inevitably allows the opposing candidate, whether they be on the right or the left, to go through the gap in the middle and seize victory.
The most recent example of vote splitting was during the 2019 General Election in the United Kingdom, when Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage agreed to stand down from a majority of seats in order to allow Boris Johnson, who was also running on a platform of securing Britain’s departure from the European Union, to win a landslide majority. Meanwhile, the hopelessly divided opposition had four separate parties (Labour, Liberal Democrats, Green, and Change UK) all campaigning for a second referendum. Johnson would have won anyway, but these divisions likely gave him more parliamentary seats than he would have won a two-party system.
This is why the idea of forming a ‘Patriot Party,’ presumably led by Donald Trump or some other right-wing populist, is such a terrible idea for those seeking to preserve the values of the United States. There is nothing the Democrats would love more than to run against two candidates who despite their differences, would likely agree ideologically on more than they disagree. Imagine, for example, a 2022 presidential race between Donald Trump as the Patriot candidate, an establishment Republican such as Marco Rubio, and Democratic candidate Joe Biden. Although Trump and Rubio could feasibly win a combined majority of the votes, it would inevitably result in a landslide for Biden, and a further four years of Democratic rule.
The likelihood of such a scenario may seem far fetched. However, it is worth noting that many Trump loyalists have pledged to never vote Republican again over what they see as the GOP’s failure to stand up against a stolen presidential election. Talk of a third party is rampant across social media, while the Wall Street Journal reported that searches for terms “Third Party,” “New Party,” or “Patriot Party” spiked following Biden’s inauguration. Prominent conservative figures including Fox Business host Lou Dobbs and actor James Woods have also endorsed the idea, with the former saying it had “nice ring to it.”
Earlier this week, the ‘MAGA Patriot Party’ registered itself as an official political entity, although the Trump campaign did make a point of disavowing itself from the project. According to Maggie Haberman of The New York Times, Trump dropped his interest in the idea after concluding that only a handful of Republican Senators would vote to impeach him over the Capitol riot earlier this month. In the end, it does not matter whether the party is led by Donald Trump or any other populist icon. Should such a party ever become an electoral force, they would simply siphon off votes from Republican candidates and give Democrats absolute control of America’s three branches of government.
Although Joe Biden’s campaign was deeply uninspiring, it managed to do one thing very effectively. United in their opposition to the Trump movement, they successfully built a coalition that incorporated far-left radicals such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Blue Dog Democrats like Senator Joe Manchin. Meanwhile, Republicans such as Senators Mitt Romney, Lisa Murkowski, and Susan Collins did not extend their support to Donald Trump, a fact that undoubtedly cost him some, albeit small, amount of support.
The unity of Democrats behind a candidate who was falsely framed as the “moderate” choice is ultimately what got Joe Biden across the line and into the White House. If Trump supporters and the wider conservative movement wish to take back control of the country’s vital institutions, they must learn to turn this on its head. Because as the Democrats move further left and the Biden administration continues to pursue its nefarious agenda, it will be the Republicans who will take the helm as the party of moderation.