This political season is a mess. On the left, you have the establishment (Clinton) and the insurgency (Sanders). On the right you have the old establishment (Bush and maybe Kasich), the young establishment (Rubio) and the whacko insurgency (Trump, Carson & Cruz). It’s hard to see how any of these folks can cobble together a majority, or even a decent plurality of the voters.
To steal a Jimmy Carter line (even though he never used the word), there is a malaise across the country. Death rates for middle-aged white people are on the rise. They had some hope for the future until the Great Recession hit, taking their jobs and what little security they had. They used to have half-decent jobs, but are now unemployed or under-employed at Home Depots and Wal-Marts. It seems their dreams for the future have died, and they’re killing themselves with booze and drugs and eating crappy food while watching Fox news and waiting for the comfortable retirement that they realize will never come. They look to the Democrats and they see two old fogeys. One is the ultimate political insider and the other, an old socialist who looks like something out of Back to the Future. Scratch below the surface of populist rhetoric, and what do they see? A lot of whacko-leftist political correctness. Yeah, marriage equality might not be so bad. Those old lesbians down the street are OK people, but Caitlin Jenner?! Gimme a break! Tranny men in women’s washrooms? Politically correct Halloween costumes? Trigger warnings and safe spaces at our universities? The world’s going to hell in a hand basket.
The Democrats can’t fix this. They are old and tired and have had their asses handed to them during the Obama era. They’ve lost the Congress, a dozen or so state governors, and countless state and local representatives. They may have had victories with Obamacare, marriage equality and the Keystone pipeline, but big money still runs the show. Bernie Sanders has the right message, but he’s the wrong messenger. I can’t see how he can win. Hillary Clinton mouths some of the same message, but she is the ultimate political insider, saddled with all the baggage that entails.
So what will the Republicans do? Cut taxes! Strong defense! Balance the budget! Build a wall! It doesn’t matter that none of this makes any sense. We’ll make America strong again! Yeah, Carson is a looney liar. Maybe he can’t make it. Rubio is the tool of the pro-immigration old money establishment now that Bush has cratered. Everyone hates Cruz. Kasich who? But Trump? He’s beholden to no one. Yeah, he’s a loud-mouthed bully, but maybe we need someone to bully Washington around.
But then look at what Trump actually says when he’s not insulting someone. He thinks hedge fund managers are just pushing paper around and should pay the same taxes as everyone else. He thinks single-payer health care works pretty well in other parts of the world. He’ll negotiate better trade deals and stop sending jobs overseas.
And if he doesn’t work out, maybe America will get the anal rape it deserves and finally come to its senses.