America must wake from its populist nightmare

America must wake from its populist nightmare

It was never supposed to happen like this.

The race for the most important elected office in the world was never supposed to be a competition to decide who has the least amount of credentials for a job that many believe requires extensive experience — above all else.

As The Economist remarked in their most recent issue, “the choice was supposed to be between a Bush and a Clinton — more a coronation than an election.”

In either case, it would not have been perfect, as the president would be a member of one of the two families who have controlled the White House for 20 of the last 27 years.

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It would have been distressingly dynastic, mirroring the dreaded monarchy that we fought so hard to disband ourselves from. But at least it would never be the case that boneheaded outsiders would rush upon the scene and upend the electoral process as we know it.     

But alas, that is exactly what has happened.

For the first time in American history, there are two serious candidates for president of the United States from the two major political parties whose calling card has become their unique and unparalleled distance from the political establishment.

How convenient, considering both are currently seeking to ensconce themselves in the very same political system that they claim to so vehemently despise. It is truly an astounding phenomenon that both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have become as wildly popular as they have.

It wasn’t long ago that Americans laughed boisterously at the idea of any candidate containing the word “socialism” in their platform, and it was just a mere few months ago that news outlets like The Huffington Post were covering Trump’s campaign in the comedy section of their blog.

The prospect that campaigns like those of Trump and Sanders could ever gain genuine steam was laughable.

But now, Americans are faced with the very real possibility that a populist candidate from either side of the aisle could actually become President, and since that is the case, it is high time for them to take stock of what that actually says about the United States as a country.

Never in the history of the United States have two Presidential candidates so ruthlessly preyed on voters’ fears to advance their political agenda.

Whether it is Trump’s insistence that we build an enormous wall along the Mexican border to keep out the “rapists,” (more commonly known as illegal immigrants) or Sanders’ assertion that a few Wall Street bankers are singlehandedly hijacking the economic sector, both men use fear as their principal instrument in their campaigns.

But this strategy is not, as some political pundits claim, just worrisome.

Rather, the virulent populism that Trump and Sanders espouse is abetting in the demise of the very political system that both are trying so fervently to save.

Voters may be tempted to believe that an anti-establishment President is just what this country needs — a fresh start, a clean slate, a departure from the morally bankrupt politicians of today. And all told, they might be right.

But Trump’s xenophobic backwardness coupled with Sanders’ pipedream liberalism is not the solution to this country’s woes.

More than anything, voters need a candidate who appeals to their hopes, not their fears.

Unfortunately enough, the best candidate that the United States has left at this point might just be a member of that old political dynasty that we thought was a relic of the distant past.   

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