March 8, 2016

What do Sanders and Trump Have in Common? (& What Does it Say about What the American People are Ready For?)

American flag

Although it seems like comparing Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump is like comparing a grumpy fat cat and a yippy Chihuahua, one might be surprised to find that they have some key things in common—things which have huge implications regarding what the American people are ready for.

Seemingly—on polar opposite sides of the political spectrum—these two fiery, white men with outlandish ideas have risen to the top of the polls. America may be divided between “Left” and “Right”—but looking deeper, it would appear that most of us want some of the same basic things.

So what do Bernie and Donald have in common?

Here’s my (short) list, and I welcome any more you can add to it:

1. Neither Sanders nor Trump are funded by giant corporations with special interests. Sanders refuses to accept “dark money” for his campaign, instead bringing in record-breaking donations from individual citizens and small organizations, a message of which Bernie supports. Trump is funded by, well—Trump. He doesn’t need outside donations for his campaign and therein lies much of his appeal for Republican voters.

2. Both Trump and Sanders agree that the current political system has got to change—drastically. Trump takes every chance he can get to point out that the government—as it is—is the most hilarious joke since “that’s what she said.” He plays the clown in the circus of government, all the while remaining very strategic and calculating. Sanders doesn’t make a speech without saying the word “reform” a least three times. His whole platform revolves around the idea that the current political system is broken and nothing short of a revolution will fix it.

3. Bernie and Trump are both fiery, passionate and charismatic. While both are outrageously goofy in their own right, they both speak in a loud, clear voice that rings in the hearts of the people. They both have strong assertions that they stand by with an air of invincibility.

Now, let’s take a minute to think about what this means if more than half of Americans want one of these people in office…

To me, it means this: that the American people are ready for a drastic change in the way the government is run, and they don’t want that change to come from the giant corporations who have funded the changes in government policy that led to the political mess we see today.

Americans are looking for a strong leader who promises to put power back in to the hands of the people.

Where is this desire coming from? I could make a long list of why most Americans are dissatisfied (including the wealthiest 1%), but really—it all comes down to fear. It is this fear that fuels the ever-increasing shootings we are seeing, which fuels even more fear and division. We fear the horrible things that would happen if “the Left” won the presidential election—or if “the Right” won. We fear what would happen if a racist won, or a socialist won, or if an immigrant won, or if someone who is funded by the corporations won.

I was just at a caucus where more than half of the people voting for a certain candidate admitted that their main reason for doing so was just because they thought that candidate had a better chance of winning against the “evil” other party.

These are people who were admittedly voting against the person whose policies they agreed with the most, simply out of fear!

As this presidential race steamrolls on, I urge each and every voter to ask themselves: “Am I simply voting against someone or something—or am I voting for what I actually want?”

Let’s all remember that it’s in the best interests of the powers that be that the American people feel divided and feel a lack of real choice in this “democracy.” Research the candidates for president, the House and your local county—their voting histories, policies and funding sources. Check in with yourself: “Am I drawn to that because I fear the alternative?”

Remember what the two candidates at the top of the polls have in common. Most of us want the same things—we want the political system to start working for the many again—not just the few at the top—and we want a say in our political processes again.

Keep your eye on what you really want, and remember that most Americans—both “Left” and “Right”—want some of those things in common. As a unified nation, we can create the changes we want to see.


Author: Sandra Chervenak

Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

Photo: Flickr/Seth Sawyers

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Sandra Chervenak