Although the presidential election won’t take place until November, the process of narrowing down the candidates begins in less than a month. On Feb. 1st, people in Iowa will cast their ballots in the state’s caucus, marking the beginning of a series of presidential caucuses and primaries around the country.
2015 marked the beginning of the political season and was a dramatic year for both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. This was primarily due to the unexpected popularity of Donald Trump—who was never thought by the majority of Americans to be a serious contender for the presidency—and Bernie Sanders—a Democrat who likes to refer to himself as a “democratic socialist” at a time when a lot of Americans still fear the idea of socialism. Trump, is now topping Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz while Bernie is now presenting a threat to Hillary Clinton, who has been seen by political analysts and the majority of Democratic voters as the most likely person to succeed Barack Obama.
Yes, Donald Trump leading the polls is surprising and so is Bernie Sanders’s ability to raise $73 million without accepting any corporate sponsorship. But the roots of the situations they are having now in the race aren’t just surprising, they’re exhausting. The American people are tired of seeing a Washington that is all talk and no action and politicians who give speeches meant to produce cheers instead of change.
There is one thing Sanders and Trump have in common—they speak without confusing the voters.
Although I am not hopeful that Sanders will eventually win the nomination, everywhere he goes and every time he speaks, a big crowd excitingly shows up for him. He is part of the politics in Washington, but he refuses to follow the path everyone else follows: accepting big money and letting the greed of Wall Street go unchecked. He wants to let people know that socialism is not a monster. Income inequality, which is an essential product of capitalism, is actually the problem Americans are suffering from; a monster that Americans can defeat if they accept a government with some socialist ideas.
In the meantime, while I disagree with everything Trump says, I have to acknowledge that he speaks without confusing people and outlines plans that appear to be understandable, like mass deportation of undocumented immigrants. People aren’t political experts and showing them too much complicated data and saying too many big words does not help them learn about the agenda that impacts their lives. Trump may be crazy but we don’t have to spend too much time trying to figure out who the heck he is and what he believes.
Sanders and Trump have changed the process of how we chose our electoral candidates. But from them, we have learned that topping a party doesn’t necessarily mean topping the nation. Sanders and Trump might be the leading men of their respective parties, but we are not yet sure if they will be politically accepted by Americans as the leader of the free world.
Being popular inside a party is nowhere near the same as being popular nationwide. Democrats may cheer for the presence of a socialist, but a lot Americans easily think of communism when hearing the ideas of socialism. Republicans may be excited for a wealthy man who labels Mexicans as criminals and wishes to make a Muslim-free America. However, after seeing Donald Trump call Hillary Clinton’s use of the bathroom during her break at the Democratic Candidates Debate “disgusting,” I don’t believe Americans would love to be represented by a self-appointed bathroom cop. I now wonder how Donald Trump lives without ever using a bathroom himself!
Trump is not falling in the polls and Sanders is leading Clinton slightly in early voting states like New Hampshire. But will both parties make sure the individuals they dispatch will win over an entire nation?
2016 is just getting started! Stay tuned!