US President Donald Trump has become hero to the far-Right of the Republican Party. Although he was always a radical choice for President, due to his controversial and provocative nature, he has used his tenure in the Oval Office to pursue an agenda that reflects the extremes of the Right-wing. It is an agenda that caters to the wealthy and influential. Having achieved victory in the 2016 Presidential by selling himself as the non-politician who would shake things up and defy the political agendas of influential special interest groups, he was destined to make enemies. As a Republican candidate, the Left was guaranteed to oppose him. His embrace of policies like regressive tax cuts and free trade have, however, steadily transformed him from the “America First,” common man’s candidate into the globalist, special interest President, thereby undermining support among those who voted against Hillary Clinton.
The Democrats have an answer for Donald Trump. They hope to win the 2018 Mid-Term Elections and the 2020 Presidential Election. Their emerging champion is US Senator Bernie Sanders. Bernie Sanders became a national candidate when he refused to quickly bow to establishment-favorite Hillary Clinton and abandon his challenge for the Democratic Party nomination. Having lost the 2016 Presidential Election and the 2008 Democratic Nomination due to the reality that she is disliked by too many voters, Hillary Clinton has been ousted as the figurehead of her husband Bill Clinton’s Party. Despite a number of highly qualified and far more appealing challengers, Sanders was the Clinton rival who survived the intense political pressure from the National Democratic Committee long enough to become a national sensation and alternative to both Clinton and Trump. As such, he became the de facto Democratic challenger to Trump in 2020.
The problem with Bernie Sanders is that he is a self-proclaimed “Democratic Socialist.” Many of his stances are reasonable, some even align with 2016 Candidate Trump’s positions, but his willing embrace of the socialist tag places him on the ideological fringe. While businesses and the wealthy have plenty to oppose in Sanders’ platform, average American voters are likely to be most uncomfortable with his calls for increased “workplace democracy,” which hinges on employee managed companies and industries that are publicly owned. To institute “workplace democracy” en mass, industries would likely have to be nationalized and property rights stripped. This is vastly different than “democratizing the markets.” The latter offers populations the leverage and opportunities they need to increase their incomes, so they have the choice to invest. Middle to Right-Wing voters will take issue with Sanders increased government spending, reliance on social welfare programs, and taxation.
Like Republicans, Democrats hope to capitalize on the hunger for change that has engulfed the American electorate. This is why Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump can attract some of the same voters. Recognizing the degree to which American politics has become polarized and the degree to which the US government has become dysfunctional due to political polarization, the US needs candidates who can appeal to more moderate factions within both the Democratic Party and Republican Party. They had this in 2012 Presidential Election when Republican Nominee Mitt Romney challenged President Barack Obama. While Romney actually lost due to his hard Right political shift, the GOP blamed Romney’s loss on his moderate history, thus emboldening the extremist elements of the Republican Party to assert their influence over the nomination process. Like Republicans, Democrats now seem to be blaming Clinton’s loss on her more traditional platform, not voters distaste for her elitist mentality. They are allowing the far-Left to seize control of the Democratic Party, thus ensuring an election of two extremes.
American politics does not need to become more extreme and more divided. The American People need to find common ground in order to achieve proper governance through political parties that better represent their common views. They need political candidates who can appeal to both Republicans and Democrats in addition to independents. Unfortunately, the political establishment has decided to forsake the Middle in favor of hardliners whose views are on the fringe. Bernie Sanders has become extremely popular. His Democratic Socialist identity is, however, something far more compatible with European politics where healthcare is considered a civil liberty. In the US, where free speech and gun rights are the primary civil liberties, Sanders represents a radical shift in the political identity of the Nation. Recognizing the ideological war between capitalism and socialism continues to rage in South America, which struggles to achieve economic stability and prosperity, the attempt to drive people back into the capitalist and socialist camps of the Cold War will only create greater division, greater strive, and greater economic instability.
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