This election was certainly the most divisive election I’ve seen in my 50+ years. I thought nothing would beat the Bush-Gore election, but I was wrong. It wasn’t just the election itself that was divisive, it was the way things unfolded. It was more than just liberals and conservatives wanting very different things, it was that the two parties completely missed what voters actually wanted.
Most elections focus on a select number of issues: abortion rights, gun control, race, and many others. There always seems to be one or two, maybe three, things that define what a specific election is about. While this election certainly had a few themes, it seems to have been a bit more nebulous than that. It wasn’t so much about better pay, health insurance, or even race relations—It was the status quo. More people were upset about business as usual in this election than in any other. Business as usual was the disease; the symptoms of that disease were the issues. Wages that don’t keep up with inflation, health care costs through the roof, minorities being targeted by the system, all these things, and others, were symptoms of the disease. The overlaying feeling was to dump the Washington status quo, which was the disease, and the problems, which were the symptoms, would get fixed.
The public didn’t seem to be overly concerned with details, they didn’t care so much about the nuts and bolts of how specific problems would be fixed, it was more big picture than that. It was felt that if Washington were swept clean the issues could be fixed, if not, no amount of detail would make a difference. This election was not about details, it was much more high level than that. It was nothing less than a total revamping of government.
This election was the 7-Up election. For those of you old enough to remember, 7-Up was the un-cola. It went head to head with the more established Pepsi Cola and Coca Cola. It was the days of anti establishment, don’t trust anyone over 30, and question authority. 7-Up struck a chord with young America wanting to upset the status quo. In this election we had two 7-Up candidates, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. They were both anti establishment, supported by grassroots efforts, and shunned by the two major parties. Neither party wanted to be on the coattails of a loose cannon lest they upset the status quo, the party rules, don’t get on its wrong side. What they seem to have missed is that is exactly what the American public wanted.
The Republican Party tried to distance themselves from Trump as best they could, hoping he would eventually implode and one of the more mainstream Republican candidates could then carry the conservative torch. The Democratic Party was much the same, they coddled Hillary Clinton while doing their best to ignore Bernie Sanders, hoping he was just a flash in the pan and eventually the left would come to their senses. The Republicans never really had any standout candidate that the Right could rally around and Trump eventually triumphed in the primaries regardless of what the right did. The Democrats, on the other hand, did have a darling, namely Hillary Clinton. They felt that Trump was such a buffoon they couldn’t not beat him regardless of whether it was Bernie or Hillary that faced him in the general election, and, as Hillary was more apt to tout the party line, they did everything they could to make sure she got the nomination—some very unscrupulous things. They completely missed the point of what this election was about.
The Democratic party succeeded in getting Hillary Clinton into the general election. Hillary Clinton was to face Donald Trump, the most anti establishment candidate ever, in a general election that was vehemently against the establishment. It didn’t matter that she had great credentials, that she actually had detailed plans to back up her agenda, or that she had the know how to get things done. She was part of the Washington establishment, part of what was considered the disease. Same disease, same symptoms. Many considered her untrustworthy, she came into this fight with lots of baggage. This was not the election for a candidate thought untrustworthy. Was this deserved? It really doesn’t matter. It was the public sentiment and it was a sentiment she couldn’t overcome. Was Donald Trump considered trustworthy? To the left, no, to the right, yes. Go figure.
The truly passionate voters tended to be behind either Sanders or Trump, for whatever their reasons. They were both anti-establishment, demanded change in Washington, and were not known to blindly follow the party line. This is exactly what people wanted. No one cared about the technicalities, no one cared about minutia, they wanted the system—the system that had ignored their needs for so long—to be dismantled. Clinton was part of that system, Sanders and Trump were not.
Someone once told me that when you put someone’s back against the wall they’ll come off that wall the best way they know how. Much of America has felt that their back has been against the wall for a long time. Stagnant wages, jobs leaving the country, unaffordable healthcare, you name it. Presidents come in, and presidents go out, yet the American people are still suffering from these problems. New plans, same problems, so why vote for just another set of plans? It seems that America thought it best to vote for an unknown since the known has gotten them nowhere. They came off that wall the best way they knew how.
Had the DNC given the left what they wanted, had they not pushed their will, had they allowed the primaries to reflect the will of the voters we might have had a very different result in the general election. We would have had something we’ve never had in a presidential election, two candidates facing each other, each determined to change Washington. Yes, every candidate that runs gives lip service to changing Washington but very few actually have the will to do it, they’re too dependant on their party for backing. This election would have been different. Would either candidate, Sanders or Trump, have succeeded? If not, it wouldn’t be for a lack of trying.
American people are fed up with being marginalized by the Washington elite. It seems that nothing but a total shakeup of our political system will change the state of the American people and the people know that. That is what this election was all about. Would Clinton have been a better President than Sanders? It really doesn’t matter, that wasn’t point. The point of this election was real and meaningful change. Clinton was not thought of as someone that could deliver that, Sanders was. You know the rest.