Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders -
Authenticity and Contempt for Big-Money
Political pundits scramble to make sense out of the start of the 2016 Presidential cycle and to re-establish their prognosticator creds. The current conventional wisdom is that the American public is shunning professional politicians in favor of anti-establishment authenticity and/or from contempt for the mega-donors’ manipulation of politics.
The authenticity /anti-establishment explanation
Candidates seem to get the designation of “authentic” based on a combination of either being an “outsider” or by making statements that would usually be considered politically incorrect. Though Trump is omnipresent in popular culture, he has no real political resume. Sanders has been in politics throughout his career, but many consider him an outsider because he is a self- defined democratic socialist. Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina are seen as anti-establishment because they have achieved (even if not maintained) success in other competitive fields. We hear how running Hewlett Packard (into the ground) can prepare you to handle Putin, or how managing a bunch of egotistical neurosurgeons would prepare you for handling the (egotistical) political elites.
Sanders, Trump, and Carson are praised for their message authenticity. Bernie Sanders is the “genuine article”. He has had the same message about economic equality for over 30 years. Donald Trump is trumpeted as “his own man” because he has eschewed political correctness while prompting free television coverage with showmanship savvy. Although Trump has demeaned minorities with his xenophobic rants, refreshed his racist birtherism, questioned the heroism of John McCain , and insulted women (Rosie, Carly, Meghan and more)- his polls rise with each political “gaffe”. The media is repeatedly stunned by Trump’s statements, but the other Republican candidates express much of the same hate-based ideology, though often broadcast in socially ambiguous dog whistles. Ben Carson who says stark-raving things in a soft monotone portrays authenticity through his “spirituality”. He is quick to make analogies between today’s problems with Nazism or slavery, criticizes those killed in a mass shooting for their lack of courage or negotiation skills, trumps Trump in anti-Muslim rhetoric, and says that “extreme political speech” on university campuses should be curtailed. Focus groups show strong support for his message.
The contempt for mega-donors explanation
Bernie Sanders (advocate for egalitarian policy) and Donald Trump (promoter of nationalistic exclusivity), so different in almost every way are increasingly compared as one single phenomenon. [See Being against Buying Elections Is Not Populism]. If they are two sides of the same coin, the currency is contempt for super-wealthy.
Voters are angry about mega-donors and their control of elections and actual American policy, are delighted to hear that neither Bernie nor Donald will accept that money. Matea Gold and Jenna Johnson of The Washington Post wrote of voters driving long distances to attend speeches by either of these candidate. Donald Trump has been crystal-clear as he outlines what would happen if he had accepted money from some of his friends when they later would ask him to push for their issues. He would feel indebted and biased toward. He repeatedly challenges those in his huge audiences – asking them if he should take the money. They scream back in unison – No!
Bernie uses more math, more economic basis, more cause-effect logic as he spells out how the country’s decisions are being made by1/10 of 1%. With fists clenched, he grabs our attention, demanding that we hear how the influence from super-wealthy will harm most Americans or America as a whole. The audience loves it and agree that if you accept the money from the donors a quid-pro-quo is inevitable. Many say that the issue of campaign financing and it’s candidate indebtedness to big money is the single biggest issue of the election.
More than the words of Sanders, Trump, or their followers, we see the danger of the current campaign financing when we look at how other candidates are taking the money and are, as Trump has warned, “puppets” of the donors. Consider the explicit goals of billionaire Sheldon Adelson. Adelson, like most of the Republican bench, is against the multi-national Iran deal. Sheldon Adelson wants the US to show Iran that we “mean business” by using a nuclear bomb a remote without provocation and then say, “ See! The next one is in the middle of Tehran” Now he is shopping for a candidate – Rubio looks like the likely choice. If Rubio were to win the presidency – bought and paid for by Adelson - we all should quake to imagine what Rubio’s approach to Iran will be.