Despite predictions that his support will fade, polls show Donald Trump well ahead of all other contenders among Republican voters, despite his boorish and brusque ways. More than a few political pundits have asked how that can possibly be. To me, the answer seems obvious, despite my personal uneasiness with simple or obvious answers [which so often turn out to be neither].
Trump is articulating all the concerns that millions of Americans have – that the political system is broken, that career politicians are only interested in themselves, that excessive concern for those at the very bottom and very top of the economic ladder has resulted in screwing the middle class, especially the working middle class, and that corporate leaders and politicians have conspired to destroy millions of American jobs by allowing those jobs to be outsourced overseas while allowing millions of illegal immigrants to flood into the United States to get both welfare and take jobs from Americans by being willing to work for less under miserable conditions.
The people to whom Trump is appealing aren’t just angry, they’re furious, and they feel no one is listening to them.
On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders is appealing to similar concerns, except his platform also includes appeals to minimum age workers and to minorities by doubling the minimum wage and taking on the economic structure that creates barriers for the financially disenfranchised. Over the past two decades, minimum wage workers have seen their purchasing power decline more than any other economic class in the United States, which has resulted in some cities and states increasing state and local minimum wages, but those increases have had a limited effect so far. Sanders is also talking about reforming Wall Street, making the very wealthiest Americans pay more in taxes, universal affordable health care, and affordable college.
The political pundits thought Sanders didn’t have a ghost of a chance – except he’s already raised more than $15 million exclusively from small donations, is drawing crowds in excess of 10,000 people, has enlisted more than 100,000 in support efforts, and is within ten points of Hillary Clinton in early primary states.
If these two very different campaigns don’t tell you that there are a lot of angry Americans out there who want change… you’re not seeing what’s really there.
While I still doubt that either Trump or Sanders can capture a nomination, history shows that angry and unhappy voters can totally change the political calculus. There was this mountebank candidate, a racist anti-Semite that no one took seriously in a faraway time and place… Germany, I think it was…