Like many people, I both have a gut feeling that this year’s presidential election circus is like no other, and I have trouble finding the words to say why.
Here’s one stab at articulating this gut feeling — and its import:
Most elections are between candidates all of whom wear political masks of one kind or another, and often many kinds, depending on the audience. Of the three remaining candidates this year, only one of them wears masks: Hillary Clinton. And she’s very very good at it. Which many of us notice, and this makes us want to spit in her face. We want to say, get real, Hillary, show your authentic self! Stop pretending! But, as Jon Stewart said not too long ago, he’s not sure “there’s a real person” underneath the masks.
That Americans are no longer taken by political masks is amazing! Perhaps we are growing up? Learning to see beneath appearances to reality?
To me, the fascination with both Trump and Sanders is that while they both have been labeled “populists,” or candidates who identify with the “common people,” the difference between them is profound. For Trump, the “common people” seem to be mostly angry white formerly Republican males of a certain age; for Sanders the “common people” is everybody, of whatever color or age, that feel disenfranchised by the current system. Both Trump and Sanders, as “populists,” display one strong aspect of the American character. Trump expresses the arrogant, swaggering cowboy America who will say anything and do anything to get ahead; Sanders expresses the America that is earnest, honest, consistent, ethical, concerned with both public and individual good.
Rather than wearing masks that disguise themselves for political gain, instead, this year, both Trump and Sanders are authentically themselves, and the contrast could not be clearer. Nor could the split in America’s psyche: one part arrogant asshole; the other part decent, honest, ethical, hard-working.
And guess what? Polls consistently show that Sanders would beat Trump by a wide margin.
Meaning, more Americans identify with Sanders than with Trump. Meaning; more of us are honest, consistent, earnest, dedicated to fairness. And that includes the vast majority of young people. Trump’s top-down “make America great again” swagger is old hat; it’s what America used to be (and still is in government and military industrial circles). We the people are sick and tired of American “exceptionalism.” We want a world that works. A whole world that works, not just a world where America maintains its power over everybody else by sheer force.
So first we need to get Hillary out of the way; she may not realize it, but her old brand of politics just won’t fly with an electorate that, thanks to independent sources on the internet, recognizes her as a person drunk with power who kills with impunity through wars that she gleefully supports.
Then let’s see Sanders beat Trump. Let’s see the decent honest side of the American character win out over the swaggering bully. It’s about time.