I notice a shift in (relatively sane) people’s attitudes about the political successes of Donald Trump. Even the media seems to have pretty much caught on. He is not an anomaly; not some creature from outer space. He is clearly representing, not the reasonable thoughts, but the feelings of a huge number of Americans who are afraid and angry; people who are looking for a “strong man” to save them from the all the chaos and terrors presented by the world around them and the extreme changes the culture and the economy has undergone in the last couple of decades.
Trump is a populist without credentials. He didn’t rise up from poverty and he has never had any of the worries and troubles that almost all other Americans have in their daily lives. Trump, despite his superficial “maverick” stand, has never really been an outsider. He was rich and privileged—part of the American establishment—since the day he was born. Even Hitler served his country on the battlefield and was poor until his unique “abilities” brought him to the attention of certain groups that were looking for a radical change in their society.
But the fact that Trump’s populism is unearned doesn’t matter. Even the fact that he has nothing but contempt for the very people who are making him a success and, in fact, is more a cause of than a cure for their ills—none of this matters.
When the old, understood “rules” of morality and culture are undergoing such extreme change; when tens of millions of people are out of work and slipping into permanent poverty; when the “dark” forces of annihilation seem to be (and sometimes actually are) threatening from without… When even the very planet itself seems to be in danger of being destroyed… Then a hero must arise; a strong leader who knows just exactly who the bad guys are and exactly what to do to get rid of them.
For thousands of years, when a clan, a tribe, a culture or a country is suffering from oppression and deprivation from within and attacked from without, then the people call out for a savior.
Sometimes it’s someone like Jesus, or Ghandi or Martin Luther King—or it’s someone who works inside the political and cultural structure, like FDR.) But just as often it’s a Trump or a Hitler.
Is Bernie Sanders a Ghandi or a Martin Luther King? No. He is working inside the political structure like FDR did.
Sanders certainly has identified the cause of most of our troubles (Income inequality) and has the passion to change that. But Bernie doesn’t have FDR’s vast political experience and his willingness to go for the jugular when it comes to dealing with people who oppose him. He also doesn’t have that particular charisma that always means so much when trying to attract the great majority of the population to follow him. But still, his efforts to correct the basic wrongs of our system are right and just, and are appealing to certain groups who had given up hope that anything would ever change; also most interestingly, to the young, who have no training or investment in business as usual.
Hillary Clinton is part of the same continuum that the Republicans (including Trump) are on. Apparently she is now using “we” and “us” when referring to the troubles most people in the country are enduring. It’s obscene that she could say “we” need someone who will solve “our” problems. She is part of the problem, not the solution.
But our established political structure is based on compromise—on choosing people who are the best balance we can get to represent the right principles and the ability to get the job done within the confines of our system.
Hillary Clinton certainly has all the connections and the savvy and the experience in working within the elite, closed club that runs the country. She probably is more “electable”.
But I think I will stick with Sanders. He knows it’s not the Muslims or the Mexicans. Blowing up large portions of the Middle East isn’t going to do Americans any good. Sanders knows it’s the corporations and rich, with their stranglehold on the whole economic and political process, that are the cause of our ills.
Even with his faults he is the closest thing we have right now to a public figure with a true sense of fairness and the passion to go to extremes to create a better democracy.
In my heart, I’d like to see it wind up being Trump against Sanders. That’s taking a chance that we might wind up in the hands of a hare-brained, narcissistic bigot with violent tendencies, but it also gives us the possibility of having a President who doesn’t just appear to represent the masses but actually does represent them/us.