Trump, Sanders – two sides of same coin

August 16, 2015

trumpsandersOn one side, the “Trumpsters”. Those supporters of Donald Trump that have propelled him to the front of the herd that is this year’s Republican Party Presidential hopefuls.

On the other, the tens of thousands that are filling stadiums for self-described socialist Bernie Sanders and asking their fellow Americans to “feel the Bern”.

Polar opposites on the political spectrum, and yet two sides of the same coin.

A coin that has seen its value so diminished over the years that it’s basically worthless against the preferred currency of today’s political establishment.  A currency that long ago saw constituent desires and the national interest swapped out for political power and personal gain.

It is a coin so tarnished by betrayal and pandering that no matter what side comes up when tossed, the face is one of disgust, anger and resentment.

Disgust that no matter who gets voted in, nothing seems to change.  The hope and change that Barack Obama promised his base delivered instead disillusion and disappointment.  And all those conservative voters that were promised their vote would allow Congress to “take a stand”?  They see now instead, one sellout after another falling dutifully in line upon the orders of John Boehner and Mitch McConnell.

Anger against a system that has become so rigged against the average American that millions on both side of the coin now tell pollsters they no longer believe in the “American dream”.  Whether you’re a single mom struggling to just get by, a senior citizen being forced to choose between food, medicine and electricity, or an entrepreneur facing regulation after never ending regulation, daily life is now more about dealing with obstacles than embracing opportunity.

Resentment that while so many are struggling, the connected few have never been better off.  Government contracts, green energy initiatives, and global trade agreements get fast tracked while community banks, small business, and individual Americans are left sitting on the siding.

While Trump and Sanders both talk of how unfettered immigration (legal and illegal) is depressing wages and reducing job opportunities for legal citizens the party establishment lines up firmly against them.  Democrat activists seeing a perpetual voting block just one grand immigration reform bill away; Republicans and their U.S. Chamber of Commerce masters, a never ending supply of cheap labor.

Both Bernie and the Donald find healthcare still a dismal disappointment and a broken educational system a key factor in holding back tens of millions of Americans from better lives.  Granted, Bernie’s solution is more government and higher taxes that would only make matters worse, but that doesn’t change the fact that both candidates realize the status quo is status unacceptable.

In all my years of following Presidential politics I cannot recall a contrast so stark driven by a commonality so strong.

While I personally could not bring myself to vote for either Trump (The Donald’s temperament with our nuclear football is just too close for comfort for me) or Sanders (making all equal via mandated misery is not America), I certainly don’t demean their supporters.

They are, after all, doing nothing less than what the Founders intended:  Freely expressing their political views via support for their preferred political candidate.

Yes, there is much arguing still to come.  Yes, the vitriol is going to get worse.

But the fact that the political passion this year is not with the establishment picks of Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush but instead stirs in the camps of Trump and Sander tells me that there might just yet be a chance to save this ol “grand experiment” we call America.

PUBLISHER NOTE:  A version of this column first appeared in the August 16, 2015 print edition of the Joplin Globe.

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