I know this is a bit late; I wrote it in a bit of a hurry and kept meaning to come back and proof read it. I was just going to trash it, but I am rather pleased with some of my points and seeing as Bernie Sanders has not properly dropped out of the race, I’m going to post it anyway. Better late than never, right?
Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders aren’t all that different.
You’re probably thinking I’m crazy. Trump is a billionaire businessman who comes across as a bit of a fascist. Sanders is a socialist who doesn’t even have an accountant do his taxes. Trump says that he “loves uneducated people.” Most of Sanders’ campaign commercials sound like mini macroeconomics lectures.
They go about it differently but both these men are making appeals to the masses of “average Americans” who think the economy is rigged; those people who just want life to be a little easier and want their efforts and their labor to be rewarded. And apparently they both really don’t want Clinton to be president.
It was funny, on CNN the other day they played two clips, one of Trump, one of Sanders, both talking about the rigged economy. Like they were surprised that these two candidates, who seem on paper to be so different, might be a little bit similar.
But it’s not a shock at all, not really. I think everyone wants the economy to be better and life to be easier and I think all but a privileged few–the 1%, to borrow from the Occupy movement–really relate to that desire at an instinctual level and I’m sure they even want it on a more intellectual level. What makes Trump and Sanders unique in their parties, but similar to each other, is that they have figured out a way to appeal strongly to this sentiment. And they have both seized on something else, their status as self-labeled outsiders. If you happen to already feel alienated by the rhetoric and yelling and gridlock that seems an inherent part of the political process these days, then this outsider status is going to seem like it validates everything you are feeling and they are saying about a rigged system.
Because that’s the thing, Trump and Sanders are yelling about what people already want to yell about. It’s easy to fall into the rhetoric of socialism or fascism (or the more muddled versions of these political philosophies that Sanders and Trump tout) when you are yelling anyway.
Frustration that I can’t pay back my student loans more easily could easily lead to resentment that education costs so much. Plus the fact that I’m not wealthy enough to come out of school loan free also means that I’m not wealthy enough to have the connections I need to get a good job right out of school–more resentment. All that resentment can easily lead to the anger at a rigged governmental and economic system that seems to give so much to so few at the expense of the working class. Enter Sanders.
Or to the other extreme: frustration that I can’t find a full-time job and am instead working two freelance gigs and one unpaid internship could quickly lead to resentment that seemingly unqualified people are getting jobs because they have the right last name or a different skin color. Suddenly that resentment becomes anger at all immigrants and all those deemed “the establishment,” who work together to keep the system rigged against us hard-working Americans. Enter Trump.
Both sides felt they were overlooked. But Sanders hears me. Trump hears me. Does Clinton, did Cruz? Of course most of this is really just rhetorical technique that mimics seemingly plain speaking coupled an inability to comprehend reality and the limitations of the presidency.
They both rail against the man and yet they both want to be the man. They both think politics is corrupt and yet they both are running for the highest office in the land. In other words, they both say horrible things about the very people with whom, should either become president, they will have to work. (Of course Sanders clearly will not even become the nominee and I find it unlikely that Trump will become president, so I suppose that’s not really a problem for them.)
To sum up, both Trump and Sanders appeal to latent frustration/resentment/anger, both seem to be relatable and plain-spoken, and both are (to be quite flippant about it) masters of irony. Plus both men need a new hair do! (Seriously, imagine if Hillary Clinton or Carly Fiorina had hair as crazy as Trump or Sanders. Everyone would instantly say that they should take better care of themselves, fire their hairdresser, and respect the office they are seeking. But on men it’s amusing or endearing. But more on sexism in politics and the media later, I’d imagine.)
I guess these two men are’t as different as CNN thought they were until a reporter decided to juxtapose two clips of the men saying, surprise, almost the exact same thing!