By Trevor Law
I know what you are thinking. What in the world do these two guys have in common and how are they helping?! In previous posts I’ve talked about Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump and I’ve been pretty hard on both of the them, but they are providing a service in American politics that is desperately needed today. They are forcing their respective parties to listen to groups that feel ignored and under appreciated; similar to how Ross Perot, Eugene Debs, or even George Wallace did. For better or worse all three of those third party candidates represented an ideology and group that felt ignored and those men gave them a voice that the political leaders of their time would’ve ignored.
For Trump’s supporters it’s a matter of fact that we are being overrun by illegal immigrants, that Washington is in the pockets of big money and that they are totally unresponsive to the needs of average Americans. For Sanders’ supporters they feel as if corporations now run America, and that the American dream is slipping out of reach, that Washington is in the pockets of big money and that they are totally unresponsive to the needs of average Americans. You see the similarities now?
Or think about it like this, the political class came out very quickly against these two men. Both were called unelectable fringe candidates and encouraged by their party’s establishment to stay out of the race. Now while Sanders represents a new brand of Liberalism, one that is unafraid to be labeled as socialist, and indeed embraces the title. Trump is a demagogue, someone who rallies people to his banner through sheer force of personality, similar to Vladimir Putin of Russia, or Silvio Berlusconi of Italy, or Bane in the Dark Knight Rises. They are doing something millions of Americans are desperate for – stick it to the political class and remind the forces that control our government that they can’t be ignored, or manipulated anymore. Don’t get me wrong, there is some policy to all of this, but that is secondary. The real source of both of their strength is something bigger than them: a desire to be heard and a willingness to burn down the entire system to get it.
Sanders insurgency is targeted at the Democratic party. Since the early 90’s and the election of Bill Clinton the party has been dominated by pro-business centrists. People far more willing to work with conservatives and the business community. At the time liberals didn’t really have much choice but to go along with it. After all they had lost three presidential elections in a row, and the Reagan revolution was still going strong years after he left office. Now, though, the left is tired of waiting. It would be a mistake to call it angry, but more of a “but mom I want my cake now!” sort of moment. The fact that Hillary Clinton is the front runner makes this fight all the more inevitable. Sanders and liberals are fighting for the soul of their party, envisioning a party that fights for working class Americans, battling the corporate machines that would enslave us all.
Trump and his supporters have a … different fight. In their minds the country has already fallen to a cabal of corporations, bureaucrats, and foreigners who are robbing us all blind. The government sits idly by as illegal aliens pour into this country murdering and killing our citizens. For them, this is war, and the American government is on the wrong side. They feel academics are lying to them and are part of this war, as are the media. Trump is seen as the one honest man who will tell truth to the powerful, and who can’t be bought or controlled. Every story just makes him stronger, and every fight makes him seem tougher. He is saying what millions of Americans have been thinking for years and now maybe, just maybe he can save us all!
“But Trevor, it sounds like these two guys are destroying the entire political system, how can this be a good thing?”
Well I have two answers to you. First, this NEEDS to happen. In a Democracy people can’t just have a say in government, they have to feel like their voice matters. Too many Americans don’t feel that way, and Sanders and Trump are giving them that outlet. If a large minority of Americans feel their voice isn’t heard, you get Trump, Sanders, and things like the Tea Party and Black Lives Matter. For better or worse the political class can no longer afford to ignore these groups, or risk losing control of the entire system.
“You said two reasons, what’s the other one?”
The ugly truth is, the two party system needs to die and these two are just what’s needed to do it. It is INSANE that people like Ben Carson, Donald Trump, Rand Paul, and Jeb Bush are all in the same party, and it is equally insane that Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are in the same party. Even if they don’t realize it, both Sanders and Trump have become the biggest advocates for political reform in a hundred years. They are showing just how rusty and ineffective a two party state is. Both parties have been very guilty of putting electability above what the parties actually believe and that can’t keep happening in a democracy. You need those crazy kooks on the fringe rising to the top every once in awhile because they are the ones who slap the political elites around the hardest. They ones who force them to reexamine themselves and the two party system has a tendency of making sure those people never get a voice on the national stage.
Regardless of what you think of them, this country works best once all voices are heard clearly and with a sober mind, and no one thinks clearly if they feel like they are being ignored. A multiparty state would make our elections more chaotic for sure, but they are supposed to be chaotic. Right now I know how the vast majority of states and people will vote in the general election and a multiparty state would allow every voice to be heard each election. Before you say this will make gridlock worse, ask yourself how. Neither party can work with each other and the Republican party is so dysfunctional they can’t agree with themselves on major issues like the budget and immigration. Part of the reason why we have such gridlock is because party leaders have to keep both the moderates and their conservative and liberal members happy, but if we had a state that had multiple liberal, moderate, conservative and various other types of parties then we would get a more accurate snapshot of the American public and not be held hostage by one influential group that controls one party. I’m not saying it would be perfect, but it would be a better system than the one we have now, and at the very least, it would allow every group, no matter how liberal or conservative, a party all to themselves. So that the country could gage just how effective or ineffective these ideologies are.