Trump and Sanders Have Some Things in Common
The beginning of this election cycle actually looked really boring. The names whispered in Washington, DC were names everyone had heard before. In fact, it seemed like non millennials could simply reach into their closet and grab their Bush or Clinton shirt, as the two political families would be battling each other once again for the White House. No one could even think of a Democrat nominee to go up against Clinton, and Bush already had so many political donors that he intimidated Mitt Romney out of the race. Then, there were two curve balls: Donald Trump and Senator Bernie Sanders. No one really took them seriously, but their poll numbers shot up. Furthermore, there are similarities in their campaigns that rarely happens in politics: they refuse to take money from Super PACs, and they are not media favorites. Without K street on their side, they vowed to run with the power of the people. And to everyone’s shock, it is working.
Both Sanders and Trump are very much considered extremists. While Trump is not part of the Tea Party movement really, and while many say he is not even conservative, his extremity comes in the form of his statements. Trump has never been afraid of overly stepping the line, and is more times than many politically incorrect. From the start, he has a resume that most people would never expect in politics; he is twice divorced, and has more offensive quotes than can be apologized for. Furthermore, he went up against the Republican power house Fox News, and even skipped one of their debates right before the Iowa Caucus. Trump is the target of countless comedians, and while most still consider him a joke, has won more states than any other Republican candidate. Sanders, is a self proclaimed socialist. In a country that still has sore wounds from the Cold War, this is shocking even for Democrats. As a county that was founded on a rebellion against taxes, the Democrats have always had to toe the line to show that while taxes are for the common good, they are still in favor of a capitalist state. Sanders has blown right past this status quo, openly attacking Wall Street and income inequality, and promising to provide a lot of free programs because for too long, the rich have just got richer and the poor just got poorer.
The real similarity between the two candidates besides crossing political lines, however, is in their promise for real change. Both politicians attitudes and rhetoric are about a serious overhaul of DC’s power. Shaking up the K street monopoly on the presidential election is a revolution in itself. Despite having total opposite approaches, they are promising the same solution to an ongoing problem: there is not enough change. This is not a new theme in an election, as President Obama ran on this idea in 2008. But eight years after his time in office, Americans are not seeing this change that was promised. They see an economy that is still suffering, and see that their quality of life has not become better. With the GOP establishment in particular, the Tea Party proved itself as the real watchdog for lack of commitment to Republican ideals and really listening to its voters. We saw it when Eric Cantor lost the primary to a no name economic professor, and we are seeing it now in this election. And even though when you think of Trump you do not think of Tea Party, it is the same principle: if the establishment does not listen, the people will use their vote to get the change they want.
Regardless of the outcome of this election, we cannot ignore the power of the people and the power of the vote. We also cannot ignore what they are voting for. A politician is only as good as the person who votes for them, and the power can be taken away just as quickly as it is given. So, while Trump does not look like the ideal candidate on paper, his promise to restore jobs in the US and to “make America great again” has struck a chord for Republicans across the country. And because he is not afraid to stand up for even his controversial statements, people believe he will also stand up for his statement to make the economy prosperous. The same thing is happening with Sanders. While he also may not look perfect on paper, his promise to create jobs and opportunities by taking money from the rich and giving money to the poor (ahem, the popularity of Robin Hood), also proves to seem like a better solution than any other established politician has promised. People think that what already is in place is not working, so desperate times calls for desperate measures.
Everyone is so shocked by this election, but the past few years have shown more than enough clues that candidates like Sanders and Trump were inevitable. There is only so much an electorate can take until they decide extreme measures are the only way out of a blocked situation. For many, the economy is the biggest issue in their life, and Trump and Sanders are using extreme solutions to ensure this time, there vote will actually enact change instead of an empty promise with no tangible results.