Voters on both sides want to rally around candidates who challenge the establishment.
There’s something different going on in the 2016 presidential race -- on both sides, the most anti-establishment candidates are drawing the largest crowds and rising in the polls.
In the GOP, billionaire businessman Donald Trump is still blowing his competition out of the water and drew 30,000 people to his most recent rally in Alabama. On the Democratic side, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) recently topped Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire and has seen record crowds at his rallies as well, including 10,000 in South Carolina. As some politicos have noted, this is because Americans have finally had it with the political ruling class on both sides. Trump and Sanders don’t conform to the establishment agendas and their rhetoric even lashes out at the political elite, including those within their own party. As Politico pointed out, “Both have hit on the same populist sentiment -- that a spineless elite has left the rest of the country at the mercy of global economic anarchy.” National Review continued that, “The very understandable impression that the government is lying about -- and incompetent at -- taking these problems seriously, [makes] the perfect preconditions for a populist backlash.” Even Jesse Ventura has said Sanders and Trump are a “breath of fresh air.”
"Eight years later, Hillary basically sounds the same again, but now she’s got even more baggage -- from Benghazi to her email scandal and beyond."
Naturally, Sanders became the favorite of the progressive left when Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) confirmed she wouldn’t seek the Democrat's nomination. Sanders was the only one who vehemently picked up the progressives’ mantle and had the ground support to do it. From there, his candidacy took off. His main opponent is Hillary, who also came off as a too-centrist political establishment candidate in 2008, and Democrats at that time were easily drawn to the far more engaging, progressive-sounding Barack Obama. Eight years later, Hillary basically sounds the same again, but now she’s got even more baggage -- from Benghazi to her email scandal and beyond. This couples with the fact that Sanders is a genuine, honest public servant, even if you don’t agree with his socialist policies. However, if you do like his socialist policies, such as single payer healthcare, free higher education, a $15 minimum wage and the like (and many within the Democratic party do) then he seems like a perfect candidate to take on the establishment.
With Trump, it’s a bit trickier to define how he became the “populist” favorite. Beyond the fact that the conservative base was already so sick of their establishment class anyway, it seems The Donald blasted into first place because he’s so different from the political insiders he’s running against -- or as he so often calls them, “puppets”. He isn’t a politician and is presenting himself as a rich guy who gets things done. He openly mocks his opponents and even decisions the RNC made years ago, including picking Mitt Romney as the nominee in 2012. With this blunt and honest talk, as Matt Taibbi wrote for Rolling Stone, “Trump is striking a chord with people who are feeling the squeeze in a less secure world and want to blame someone.” Voters feel they can trust Trump to take on the establishment -- perhaps because they’ve seen him look tough on TV -- and for better or worse, Trump is ready to take on that role. He’s said he won’t accept special-interest money and is maintaining his tough stances against Mexico and China. Just like Ronald Reagan the actor, Trump the TV star definitely acts like he’s the man for the job, and maybe he is. A month ago I was blasting Trump along with everybody else because of his racist rhetoric and a GOP base that was hungry for it, which propelled him into first place. But now even I want to see where this whole Trump campaign goes, no matter what happens.
"A month ago I was blasting Trump along with everybody else because of his racist rhetoric and a GOP base that was hungry for it, which propelled him into first place. But now even I want to see where this whole Trump campaign goes, no matter what happens."
While their stances obviously differ on so many issues, it’s interesting to note where Sanders and Trump also agree. Both abhor the trade and immigration policies of our country -- though they clearly have different ideas on how to fix them -- and as previously mentioned, both rail against big money in politics and Wall Street. Heck, Trump’s support of more liberal tax policies on hedge funds and Sanders’ support for the second amendment both veer away from where most of their supporters stand. Sanders has also praised Trump for his past stances on single payer healthcare. However, the two are starkly different in so many other ways -- including their approaches to their own revolutions. As Charles Pierce pointed out, “The only problem Sanders has with government is that it hasn't done enough to fix a rigged financial system and to stop the erosion of a viable middle class. The problem Trump has with government is that he's not running it.” Furthermore, Trump has openly mocked Sanders for things like losing his microphone to the Black Lives Matter activists.
Nonetheless, it’d be interesting if their parties both muscled them out and the two had to form an unlikely alliance to take on the political establishment once and for all. It probably won’t ever happen, but if it did, the political elites would likely pull out all the stops to defeat them. And those rallies would definitely be packed.
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ora Media, LLC its affiliates, or its employees.
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