When somebody as horribly wrong as Donald Trump can become the presidential nominee of one of our nation’s two major political parties, something is wrong with our entire political system.
Clearly, a sizable percentage of ordinary working Americans have lost faith that either party, Republican or Democrats, has their best interests at heart.
What’s happened? One argument is that our political process no longer screens out the yahoos. As New York Magazine warned about Trump this week: “Democracies end when they are too democratic.”
But the problem in American politics today isn’t too much democracy, it’s too little. Too many people — and they are not all yahoos — feel their voices aren’t being heard and the system is controlled by huge inflows of money, much of it from unidentified sources. Hillary Clinton (because this is not just a Republican problem) talks a good game about upping the minimum wage — between vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard and picking up $1 million for a single Wall Street speech.
Politicians spend their time courting donors rather than listening to average folks. Their “listening tours” are an open joke. Voting districts are heavily gerrymandered. Your vote may count for zilch.
Many primary voters saw Trump, a billionaire who is using mostly his own money to run his campaign, as their best hope. They turned to him to break the system, hoping the force of his personality will smash the status quo in Washington.
Political insiders unwittingly set the stage for Trump. To people who have lost jobs, lost their homes, lost their savings or lost loved ones to war, they offered tax cuts for the wealthy, a government shutdown, a threat to default on U.S. debts and cuts to Social Security and Medicare.
No wonder an April 24-28 Rasmussen Reports poll tells us 65 percent of probable U.S. voters believe the country is heading in the wrong direction. No wonder a March 11 Gallup survey put approval ratings of U.S. Congress at just 13 percent.
But Trump isn’t the cure. Not unless you’re begging for fascism. He is the disaster we had coming. More than any presumptive nominee of a major political party in memory, Trump is volatile, vulgar, uninformed, unkind and unprepared. He vilifies large swaths of Americans and calls people who don’t agree with him names. He promises whatever works in the moment.
He plays the voters — Sen. Ted Cruz got this one thing right — like a bunch of “chumps.”
And now we’ll see exactly what kind of chumps we really are.
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