Bernie Sanders has delivered a message of the inequities of the economic system – the 1 per cent getting richer and the 99 percent paying more taxes. Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are delivering messages that the grassroots of the GOP want progress from their elected officials, not broken promises.
And these folks are correct. The winner will be the candidate who can do something with their complaints. And I mean the eventual winner of the election, not the primaries.
White males without a college degree, who are at the core of Trump’s support, are not stupid people. They are angry people. They are angry that they have lost jobs – some to negotiated trade agreements, some to not being trained for the jobs of today. They are angry at the perception/reality that immigrants have filled the jobs that they used to fill. These immigrants may indeed be citizens but “they” are who those folks can point to and be angry at. They are angry about being forgotten. They have a right to their anger. They cannot be dismissed as racists. Some may be, but not all.
Young folks, liberals, people who earn under $50,000 and those with a high school diploma and maybe some college education are flocking to Sanders because he says things that make sense to them and promises free stuff. Free education, free health care. Opposition to trade agreements perceived to be costing the U.S. jobs. He rails against Big Banks and Wall Street and keeps hitting his note that the 1 percent is doing far better than the 99 percent. His aspirations and complaints are legitimate while his solutions are not realistic.
When you add up those angry folks in both parties, it’s a lot of people and they are people who have legitimate gripes. Legitimate gripes that they see Congress – and state legislatures – ignoring. Gridlock is the excuse elected officials use. They say that the extremes on each side are blocking progress. Fine. That may be true. But these people, on both sides of the political spectrum, were elected to solve problems, not create more. And there is a huge voting block – in both parties – now screaming for them to knock it off and find solutions to their problems, what a democratic government is supposed to do.
The new President had better find solutions or explain why trade agreements are good for us, not bad. Find ways to control the greed of the Big Banks, or explain why the Big Banks are good for the country. Trump and Sanders are showing that politics as usual is no longer acceptable.
Trump may be leveraging the situation to his benefit but he is not wrong pointing out what he sees as the economic challenges. He is channeling anger. Sanders is right when he says it takes a political revolution – one through the ballot box -- to make change. That doesn’t mean he has to be the vehicle to affect change. But he and Trump have been the messengers.
And if it doesn’t come through this year, then it will over the next couple of elections. Those angry people are not going away. They likely will get louder if their candidates lose and even angrier if their issues aren’t addressed.
Those message should be received loudly and clearly by those filling elected offices today and those aspiring to be President. If they don’t do something about those messages, they won’t be filling elected offices for long.