Every night the “experts” on cable news explain how the Republican Party has failed to stop the unanticipated rise of Donald Trump. Everything on the excuse spectrum from simple ignorance to absolute culpability.
They claim that the establishment Republicans did not take Trump seriously. His candidacy was looked at by many as an over the top public relations stunt, an attempt to sell more books and remain relevant in the field of popular culture. His rivals failed to attack him early and often enough. The media gave him an astronomical amount of coverage. Perhaps the most practical explanation for the rise of Donald Trump, is the complete failure of the Republican party establishment to recognize the level of anger in their own party.
Some in the Republican base have undoubtedly pledged themselves to the dangerously extreme, fact-free movement fueled by the rise of right wing media. They truly believe that President Obama was born in Kenya, or that climate change was invented by the Chinese in order to ruin the United States economy. It is no coincidence after all, that many listeners of Alex Jones have been represented at Trump’s rallies across the country.
But what about your college educated neighbor, the one who almost exclusively votes Democrat and the last person you would expect to support a candidate like Donald Trump? We have all, at some point during this exhausting primary process, been completely shocked when one of our otherwise sensible friends or co-workers admits he or she has jumped on the Trump bandwagon. After all, isn’t he a know-nothing bigot that stands for everything that the great United States of America is not?
Yes. But those criticisms ignore the most important point of the entire nominating process in 2016. Trump is not one of them. He is not one of the politicians that has continued to worship at the church of “trickle down economics” long after it has been debunked. He has not continuously supported global trade agreements written by powerful corporations that provide a select few of the world’s elites with the large majority of resources leaving billions to compete for the scraps. He was not in a government that allowed millions of jobs to go oversees and he was not in charge when Wall Street nearly wrecked the global economy with corrupt and illegal behavior, only to be bailed out using tax payer money. So while it is more than probable that he is everything his critics describe him as, in the eyes of a Trump supporter one all important fact remains. He is not one of them.
Democrats have become one of them, too.
For the better part of three decades, the Democratic party has undergone a complete ideological shift. The Party of F.D.R that championed the labor movement of the 20th Century has, for the most part, abandoned the millions of people it once regarding as its core constituency. It has been hijacked by a band of intellectual elitists and self proclaimed experts. It is a party that has come to worship education and status, and dismisses anyone who is not part of the exclusive club.
The ideology of professionalism, as author Thomas Frank has labeled it, has become the very essence of a party that was once represented by a president who famously said he welcomed Wall Street’s hatred. Instead, today’s Democratic Party is represented by presidential candidates that are far more more likely to welcome Wall Street’s money than its hatred.
The most consequential period of economic deregulation in modern history took place during the Clinton Administration. By 2008, Senator Obama became the first Democratic presidential candidate to out-raise his Republican rivals on Wall Street. The promise of “hope and change” was quickly rescinded when President Obama appointed infamous members of the financial industry to vital cabinet positions early in his presidency. By 2010, most of the passion and excitement produced by candidate Obama was a distant memory to most liberals. Hilary Clinton refuses to release the transcripts of her Wall Street speeches for which she was paid a grotesque amount of money.
In a recent speech in Indiana, Bernie Sanders appropriately asked hose side are we on. “Are we on the side of working people or big money interests? Do we stand with the elderly, the sick and the poor or do we stand with Wall Street speculators and the insurance companies?” A profound question that would not have been considered 30 years ago and until recently had been completely ignored.
Both parties have discarded the working majority of this country, and Donald Trump has mistakenly become the candidate for many blue collar citizens left to fend for themselves. He took full advantage of the vacuum left created when Democrats ceased representing the people. Trump’s ascendancy has been inevitable for decades. And for millions of desperate Americans, desperate times call for desperate measures.