The 2016 election destabilized both political parties. The two institutions we have relied on, for decades, to vet candidates, formulate mainstream ideology and organize citizen participation were revealed as having lost their ability to perform those functions. Trump conducted a successful hostile takeover of the GOP, and Bernie Sanders came close in the Democratic primary.
This happened because the electorate itself had been destabilized by a 21st century marked by terrorism, war, financial crisis, media upheaval, drug addiction epidemics, mass immigration and rapid cultural change.
Political consultants don’t get paid to admit, publicly, that they’re at sea; that admission comes out only in private. Their predicament resembles that of the Hollywood moguls in screenwriter William Goldman’s memoir: “Nobody knows anything. Not one person in the entire motion picture field knows for a certainty what’s going to work. Every time out it’s a guess — and, if you’re lucky, an educated one.”