Tuesday, March 22, 2016

America's Fracturing Political Parties and Terrifying Election

I'm a real estate agent in Silicon Valley now, and as such, I have to keep politics off my Facebook page to avoid offending anyone. Because this blog isn't the first thing I want popping up when people Google me, I've distanced my actual online presence from this. Therefore, I can talk about politics here.

 First of all, I'd like to take a moment to apologize to the rest of the world for Donald Trump. I'm so sorry. He really doesn't represent the American people; at least, not all of us. Obviously, he's doing surprisingly well, so he does represent a large number of people. That scares the hell out of me. My firm opinion in this election is best summed up by a picture of a campaign sign that says, "IDK Just Not Trump".

American politics have long been on a relatively stable cycle in which a Democrat (liberal) President is voted in when Congress is already a Democrat majority. Then, by the time Congressional elections come around, the population is frustrated with Democrats and votes in Republicans (conservative). Now, the President is a Democrat and Congress has a Republican majority, and there is a decent amount of balance. The people, still wary of Democrats, vote in a Republican President, and the same thing happens. Both the Executive and Legislative branches are Republican, which annoys the public, and Congress gets a Democrat majority at the next midterm election. It's not a perfect system, but no form of known government is, and this has worked well enough for the US for years and years because when it was all said and done, the policies of both parties were extremely similar and it didn't really matter who was in office all that much. The differences were mostly in the press, especially when it came to social issues.

 This election cycle, we have both parties coming apart at the seams. The American people have realized that our government is an oligarchy, and regardless of party, everyone is upset about it except the ones with the money buying all the politicians.

On the Democrat side, Hillary Clinton has had her eye on the White House forever and has been working toward it so long that she knows how to play the political games. She is exactly the candidate we have had for years and years, but her timing is terrible. She could not have succeeded years ago because she's a woman and we are still discriminated against. Now, she could succeed since the first President who is not a white male has been voted in, but the people don't want a product of the oligarchy. She had trouble before because Obama was a good candidate for the party and for the zeitgeist. Bernie Sanders appeals to the Democrats fed up with the oligarchy in that he is a "grassroots candidate". His platform is that he's one of us and he fights for us with our money, not corporations, so he serves us instead of the super rich and the corporations. It is still yet to be seen who the better candidate is, but at the moment I'm leaning towards Bernie. I'm a well-traveled, agnostic, middle class, white woman in the 25-35 age group in a mixed-race marriage with a bachelor's degree and no children (yet). I think it's fair to say I accurately represent my small demographic.

On the Republican side, the only candidate remaining who could have ever gotten the nomination in the past is John Kasich. But, because of years of Fox "News" and short-sighted Republican politicians warping the Republican party base into a racist, xenophobic, Jesus-is-on-our-side, homophobic, women's rights-hating group of mindless, angry zombies through fear-mongering, the two frontrunners are a horrible person and someone even more horrible than the other guy. Donald Trump's candidacy was seen as a joke at first, but is now utterly terrifying, and the only guy close to catching him is someone everyone who has ever met him hates, Ted Cruz. Neither of these men could have ever been seriously considered for the Presidency, so what happened? Donald Trump, like Bernie Sanders, is using the platform that he's not an oligarchy politician. He's "self -funded" (he's not) and he doesn't do what anyone tells him to (even himself). The more the Republican party turns on him, the more his followers believe in him. Their "betrayal" is proof to them that he's not like all the politicians they're fed up with (he's actually much, much worse). While whittling the Republican field down from a dozen, all the other candidates were vying for the sane vote and Trump crushed them in the polls. If the sane vote is divided 11 ways and the insane vote is concentrated in one candidate, 30% becomes a huge lead. One by one the other candidates dropped out, although most of them were also horrible choices (Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, and ???). In the meantime, Trump gained momentum as the press gave him all the attention and people jumped on the bandwagon. In order to attract attention, other candidates started doing what Trump does: say mean, ridiculous things. Ted Cruz caught on quickly and offered himself as a less crazy Trump, which has worked for him. Kasich is trying to hang in there as the legitimate party's last hope. The Republican party is already plotting to hijack the nomination with a technicality if Trump actually gets it, which is seeming more and more likely. Although Trump is not a good businessman (he's rich, yes, but he actually lost quite a bit of his inheritance from his rich father and doesn't own nearly as many things as he says he does), he did pick the perfect time to run for President. The Republican party has been splitting and imploding slowly, and Trump is the earthquake finally separating the land mass that once was a solid political party.

No matter what happens, this election is one for the history books, and not in a good way. It will change the face of our politics because we have looked in the mirror and hated our reflection. The world already mocked us and/or hated us, but now Trump's embarrassing success proves our critics right. I am part of a new American generation which is more in touch with the rest of the world thanks to technology making travel and internet access part of normal life, but fewer than half of us have taken advantage of this and broadened our worldview. Recent polls show an increasing number of young people think of themselves as global citizens more strongly than American citizens, and don't think America is the greatest country in the world. Perhaps Trump's success is in part a backlash against us, and Bernie's success is a reflection of our numbers reaching a significant voting mass (he's a Democratic Socialist, and Socialism tends to be negatively received in America because of its association with communism and our anti-communist history). I'm biased, of course, but I really do hope that the future of America and the world is one that includes a greater sense of global responsibility and interconnectedness. And I hope we don't have to endure the horrors of a Trump Presidency to get to that point.

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