The 2016 election season looks like it will be one for the history books. What people will say when they look back on it all, only time will be able to tell. However, looking forward from the current point shows that there are some comparisons that can be made with regards to the question of, what is the buzzing feeling centered around in this current primary race; and what might be the general feeling going into the election proper. Mainly that buzz is centered around the "anti-establishment" options in the form of a couple of guys. One from Brooklyn and another from Queens, New York, New York. Donald J. Trump and Bernie Sanders, offering what might be a faint glimmer of zest in a seemingly gridlocked political jungle centered on Washington D.C. and the last few years of the Obama administration. It is clear from the excitement that America is looking for an alternative to the lackluster bunch dredged up in previous years. It seems to be a popular trend within recent months to compare the two candidates and their points of view, different as they are, but the comparison becomes much more interesting when looked at from the point of view of the people asking the questions, mainly the American voter, in how will they bring a jolt of something new and different to the Oval Office? In order to get to the bottom of this question it is key to take a look at the various points of these two wave makers within the political race.

 

The bio taken from Bernie Sanders' campaign website (  https://berniesanders.com/?nosplash=true/ ) gives the inquisitive voter the following biographical information right at the top of the page with more detailed information below this brief overview: "Bernie Sanders is a Democratic candidate for President of the United States. In 2006, he was elected to the U.S. Senate after 16 years as Vermont’s sole congressman in the House of Representatives. Bernie is now serving his second term in the U.S. Senate after winning re-election in 2012 with 71 percent of the vote." Great, short and to the point showing the candidates past experience working within the United States governing body, the amount of support he had behind him to win his second term for the U.S. Senate and his current aspiration to become the next president of the United States. When reading further what information is given, shows Bernie to be a generally normal man running for the highest public office in the United States. Looking at his official page, just one note that would make one take pause and ask what does that mean: "Bernie has fought tirelessly for working families, focusing on the shrinking middle class and growing gap between the rich and everyone else." Yes, but almost every candidate would argue the same. Yet building a campaign with a focus on jobs and building the economy, as well as all the same types of general statements of wishing the best for America and it's future, yet trying to put down an image of "anti-establishment" seems somewhat of a stretch of the imagination. So what then sets him apart really from Hillary Clinton, his main opponent in the 2016 primaries? Lack of experience with international affairs? Name recognition? An extensively deep and well padded war-chest? Possibly, but there seems to be another point that sets him apart from Clinton, along with all those hurdles.

 

When taking a look at the official Donald J. Trump campaign website ( https://www.donaldjtrump.com/ ) again any would-be voter can gain some interesting information about some of the many different policy stances and news stories. Yet, the Trump website lacks a biography page, perhaps due to a misunderstood idea, or illusion, of being a person whom the general population of the United States knows about already; a mistake, some would argue, made only by individuals and campaign programs with novice experience at best. With further digging it can be found that Donald Trump does not have any prior experience with working in the governmental bureaucracy with which the president has to be a part of on a day to day basis. The only experiences Trump tries to bring to the table in his campaign are his business ventures, as a man who likes to go in big and take calculated risks to turn a profit, because again no American would disagree with having a strong national economy, rich in jobs and opportunity. So, as with Sanders, what is it that really sets him apart from his Republican peers? Aside from lack of any governmental experience, failures and, some accounts of fraud, when attempting to open up a private for profit university, and openly unapologetic derogatory and demeaning speech against both majority and minority segments of the U.S. and the world population. A closer look sheds interesting light. 

 

Both of the above candidates have shortcomings, that is without question. However, with these shortcomings they both also have something to offer the American voter, something that they try and make as clear as possible: an alternative "anti-establishment" voting option. Both of the candidates market themselves and their campaigns as something that is different from the status quo. Officially both of the candidates have made the argument that they are forces outside the main-stream political thinking of D.C. offices, and this is true to an extent. Regardless, as much as they are different many outside media sources to one degree or another in publications as diverse as Politico, The New York Times, National Review, Bustle, the Washington Free Beacon, and many more have tried to make the comparison between the two candidates in their degree of "anti-establishment." Their policies have been likened in the Free Beacon and Bustle, with the former claiming they are “the same person” according to policy analysis, and the latter promising they are “more similar than you think.” While these comparisons both hit and miss on certain points, it can be said that they all are able to show something very fundamental that both candidates have in common. Namely, popularity with frustrated American voters looking even falsely for something different. Again, it is without question the average American is frustrated with the state of the country. Many have very good reason to be it could be argued. An out of control national-debt, an economy that is growing too slow for some and still rather shaky after various government bail-outs and stimulus attempts, students unable to really and truly afford the cost of a quality university education mixed with few job prospects upon graduation. All this combined with various emotional and personal issues around the nation and the world that Americans feel strongly about one way or the other. Issues such as: the rise of ISIS out of a proclaimed American victory and withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan, Europe taking in refugees from a war-torn Syria, and having problems that many argue stem from the act of neighborly goodwill towards their fellow man, health insurance now mandatory for every American often at a price that is difficult or deemed "too high," and offering coverage that, for the price is often times lacking, definitions of ideas and words, such as "marriage" changing to varying degrees within American society as a whole, Political correctness and unresolved issues of race. It is very easy to understand why the average American feels frustrated and in need of a new alternative.

 

Democrats were promised that Change and Hope would come with the arrival of Obama, however, most were soon disappointed to some extent or another with his lack-luster time spent in the Oval Office. Republicans too did not have much to gain under Obama; however, they too might have been better swayed had his policies and actions on specific issues been taken one step further towards a more central position, or failing that offered something by way of compromise toward the right leaning population. More than this the American Congress and Senate seem to do nothing but argue over the same issues over and over again. Promising their constituents that they "will" do a variety of tasks to get America back to the point where it was, or should be depending on who you ask. Fast forwarding to the 2016 primary elections allows for the frustration of the average American voter, and lack of confidence in what are being called "establishment" candidates, to be very clear for all the world to see. If they are able to capitalize on this frustration the far left and the far right both just might have a chance, but it begs to be asked, what could this mean for a third party or an independent should they make an attempt at the White House, is this the time many have been waiting for in U.S. politics? In short, it is possible of course but not very likely when looking at the current trend. As alike as Trump and Sanders are, they have fundamentally different points and ideas as to the question of "how to move forward" when it comes right down to it. They both are running on different platforms, and trying at this point, to make a case to different segments of the population with some difficulty, despite how optimistic they appear to be. Americans on both sides of the fence are looking for a better future for the country as a whole, everyone wants to have job security and retirement, everyone wants access to affordable and healthcare that is on par if not better than that available the world over, every person would agree that affordable housing and good schools are a common point across party lines; the trouble is making an attempt to get there that makes everyone involved in the process satisfied. This is where the candidates are trying to make their cases in order to win the nomination of their respective party, the end result they have in mind are more or less similar than it appears at a glance. Where they differ the most is in the process to get to that end result of making America great. This different approach with regards to the process in the general election will come into play much more, but even within their own parties they need to win over the skeptics if they want their shot. 


This argument on the process of "how" is where these two candidates offer something to the American public. Both of the candidates answer this question of "how" ways that are both different yet satisfying in their own way. Sanders on the one hand is running his race on substantive policy issues, and Trump mostly hangs his campaign on the sheer force of his personality. Those looking for information on key issues can glean more information from Sanders on the far left than from Trump, even if they do not agree with his method or viewpoint, his campaign offers a lot of material on important issues that are unspoken challenges which America will need to take care of sooner rather than later. Those who are looking for a "strong man" figure head who needs not apologize for a word that comes out of his mouth and is ready to get his hands dirty fighting the good fight, yet lacking in way of real political experience then Trump does indeed put on a good show. Both of these guys also have a point in common in that they are not likely to be gaining any nominations, regardless of public opinion and soap box hollering, they are both a part of their respective parties that might be too much ahead of their time. Trump fractures with the Republican party on some major issues, such as immigration where Trump is more right leaning than the GOP would like at the moment. More than that Trump has caused some major problems with traditional sources of Republican power, Fox News, the Club for Growth, Glenn Beck, Redstate, and the National Review are all for better or worse anti-Trump. The point Trump might, and let me stress might, have in his favor at this point is that he is indeed trying to change the Republican party directly from the inside. Republicans who want to get back to their roots see Trump fighting for what they believe in and using any method he needs to use to do so. Sanders on the other side again is something of an oddball within the Democratic party for a different reason. Overall his past voting record shows that he follows the party 95% of the time, with the other 5% of the time having him be further to the left, something that is very easy to predict, and even somehow calculate for within the Democratic party with regards to specific issues. This being the case does not mean that he is the guy fit for the nomination. Sanders while popular is somewhat of an opponent to some of the Democratic party's more wealthy members, more than that Hillary Clinton is very popular with both rank and file Democrats as well as the elite members of the party making her a more ideal nomination at the moment over Sanders. What might be added to this is Sanders' self-identified stance as a "socialist," a point that in the general election might not win him or the democratic party any friends. Yet even with all of this there are some examples to look at with regards to the Democratic nomination, especially George McGovern in 1972 and Barry Goldwater in 1964, that show Sanders is not totally out of the question. Lastly it should be noted here that National Review’s Jonah Goldberg has observed, for example, that Trump sometimes appears to be in favor of single-payer health care, that he and Sanders each oppose an “open borders” immigration approach, and that both have their objections to free trade. The notion that Trump supports single-payer healthcare wrongly presumes he has a health-care policy in the works whatsoever, but moreover relies on older gestures toward single-payer (mostly from statements made around the year 2000) to the exclusion of more recent statements in which he has applauded a government-paid system for the poor and private, market-based insurance plans for the majority. Sanders, on the other hand, openly advocates a “Medicare for all” system amounting to a single-payer universal program for all Americans. If “Medicare for all” and Medicare for some are identical, then Sanders and Trump are the same, and words have no meaning.

 

Who will take the nomination from their respective party's is still anyone's guess, but the information is out there for anyone willing to take the time to become an informed voter. While both of the far reaching candidates offer the average voter an alternative to the "establishment" they both have their shortcomings and by no means will either one of them be a one click fix for the United States that the vast majority of people seem to believe at this point in the primaries. The underlying fact to remember is that the next president of the United States will only be able to offer as much as is allowed to him, for no president acts as a government of one regardless of campaign speech, and if elected both Trump and Sanders will have their work cut out for them.

Published by Allen Colombo Jr.