It’s become fashionable in the last many presidential election cycles to campaign as “the Washington outsider” and now maybe the political outsider.
But maybe this cycle will really be different. The narrative going around now by those who follow politics is that the electorate is really fed up and that both young people, along with not young people, large numbers of whom who have not bothered to vote in the past, just might turn out this time and in the primary to choose an outsider.
On the one hand, there is Donald Trump, who is running as a Republican, and who has not held political office and who has not been active in politics, except perhaps in handing out donations (or bribes as they often really are; I mean he admits that). On the other hand, they can vote for Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-identified socialist, who caucuses with the Democrats, and who is one of the two leading candidates for the Democratic Party.
Even though Democrats are routinely called socialists by non-Democrats, Sanders admits to the ideology.
Now surprising to me, I heard someone mention today that a large number of prospective Democratic caucus participants identify with the socialist ideology or at least are accepting of it. I have not seen actual polls on this. But apparently Sanders’ message is sinking in with large numbers of people.
But at the same time, Trump, a brash, and crass, foul-mouthed real estate tycoon, and so-called reality TV show entertainer and runner of beauty contests, is appealing not only to Republicans but a portion of the Democratic Party who feel their voices are not heard by the insiders.
Union bosses are concerned that portions of their membership are attracted to Trump.
What I am hearing and reading is that people have finally come to realize that under the current system the voices of the masses are basically ignored in favor of special interests — Wall Street, major corporations, big-money donors.
I know, you’ve heard this all before but nothing changes. Yup, that’s right, but theoretically it could.
If people at large actually followed the issues — and I don’t mean by listening to the one-sided bull crap on right-wing radio, which is geared toward simply pleasing its demographic and sponsors with no objective coverage whatsoever, and if they contacted their elected officials on some regular basis then the clout of the special interests would be lessened.
Look at it this way: if I am elected as a congressman I cannot get much done in one two-year term, so to get re-elected I have to raise money for my campaign. But if the common folk cannot be bothered and if they don’t even have time to pay attention to what I am doing and give me feedback, then the only place I have to turn is to the lobbyists. And if I cross them, I not only forgo money for my re-election campaign, I subject myself to the likelihood of attack ads against me.
What I am saying is the power really can be with the people, but they have to stay in touch even after the election. I mean what happened to all that enthusiasm for candidate and then President Barack Obama and his promised cleanup of Wall Street? I mean maybe he never intended to, but had his supporters kept on him, he just might have had to fulfill that promise. While he did enact a landmark health care bill, the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, it was such a compromise that even its supporters in congress didn’t know what they were going to get or approve. Had there been more public support there might have been a public option or something that looked more like universal health care, something more geared toward the patient and less toward the insurance industry.
Just like the good witch told homesick Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, you had the power all along — in Dorothy’s case to go home, in the voters’ case, to take back their government.
Probably I should have said something about people becoming more active in political parties at the local level. But that is almost another issue in itself. I know I never have and cannot think of how I would have had the time. But our party system is weak and is outgunned by individual candidates in cahoots with special interests. I think political parties actually can work for the good of the people, but they can be hijacked or bypassed by special interests who count on public apathy and ignorance.