America is more politically weird than ever. Our government is gridlocked and there seems to be no way out. Our country is divided like never before. Both political parties are forced to cater to a broad spectrum requiring an astounding variety of presidential candidates.
Out of all these candidates, 21 the official number as of this writing, I side most with Bernie Sanders. I admire a lot about him, especially his commitment to equality. I believe a lot of his stances, especially on healthcare and immigration, are what our country needs. I respect that he continually stands up for what he thinks are important issues even if they aren’t always popular. I think he could do a lot of good for our country.
But I’m not voting for him.
I am willing to do what a lot of Americans aren’t: compromise. We’re divided because we can’t reach across that divide between blue and red. This divide isn’t really all that big. Compared to other countries, America is conservative. Look at Europe for example. They have their own version of liberals and conservatives, but even most of their conservatives support ideas such as universal health care and gun control.
It’s difficult for most American politicians to even touch these issues, let alone openly support them. Bernie Sanders is an outspoken socialist, in favor of these reforms and other agendas, but he is, compared to much of the democratic party (though again, not Europe), pretty far left. His recent speech at conservative Liberty University made it seem like he was reaching across party lines, but still he stuck to his agenda. Rather than focusing on issues both he and conservatives could agree on, he spent the majority of his time unflinchingly defending his political platform.
Even his usual moniker for running, Socialist, indicates that he is used to standing out. One of only a few independent senators in American history, he has never backed down from his chosen political ideology. Claiming to be a Socialist has been akin to political suicide for the last 100 years; it is easier to label oneself as a far-left democrat. If he is not even willing to compromise on his political nomenclature, how easy will it be for him to reach across party lines as President?
So if I agree with Sanders on a lot of issues, why am I looking at compromise so favorably? Because of the two words that every political piece written in the last four months has to mention: Donald Trump. Why is he leading in the polls? I could provide a link to his polling numbers, but everyone knows them by now. He’s a big talker, and he lets everyone know exactly how far in the lead he is. Everyone seems to hate him, but apparently he has a large supporter base somewhere. It is hard to deny his magnetism in speaking.
Why are people so drawn to a candidate with no previous political experience and an utter disregard for convention and political correctness and decorum? There are lots of reasons for this, but I think the biggest is this: Americans are sick of an American government they feel has lost touch with them. Trump is just a big “reset” button that a large portion of this country is trying desperately hard to press. We’re sick of the Congress that doesn’t do anything (thanks Republicans), the politicians that lie and then cover it up (thanks both Clintons). Both parties are guilty of slimy politics.
I believe Trump and his ideologies are the most dangerous thing to ever happen in American politics. I told my friend the other day (only half-jokingly) that if Trump wins we should probably just ask the Queen of England to let us back into her country. Our great democratic experiment will be over and failed.
We can’t survive as a democracy if we spend all our time yelling and not doing anything. Trump represents the idea that American politics have failed for the last 239 years and now we need somebody completely unaffected by the system. He is the manifestation of America’s pent up frustrations with all things governmental and political.
The founding fathers set up a style of government that favors debate and political parties. In this winner-take-all system, we have to vote for the candidate that will best serve the entire country’s needs. Our government is built around insiders that know the workings of the political sphere and can get their own way inside of it. Our government is built around dissenting parties debating and reaching a conclusion.
We’ve been gridlocked, but we haven’t failed yet. We have failed when we seek someone outside the political sphere purely because they are outside of the sphere. All of our previous presidents have had some experience with the government on some level before their presidencies. Some more than others, but they still had a connection. To vote someone into office because of a lack of connection undermines everything our country has stood for.
How do we combat this situation? We do what we were supposed to do. We compromise. We vote for a government that doesn’t come perilously close to defaulting on its loans. We vote for a moderate that won’t fulfill our greatest desires for the government, but at least does something. We vote for someone with experience in a political arena because they know what they’re doing.
When did a lack of experience become a virtue?
I can’t tell you who to vote for. I still don’t even know who I want to win the nominations for president. Here’s a list of candidates based on how conservative or liberal they are. I encourage you to read up on who you’re planning to vote for. If their score is heavily on one side or the other, chances are they’re not going to compromise on as many issues.
Right now it seems like Chris Christie is the most moderate candidate in the running. Do I agree with everything he says? No. Do I want him to win? Maybe. Would I rather have him win than Trump? A million times yes.
So, 2016 will be the year when we decide how our country will continue to move forward. Will we have a government that can agree on something, anything? Will we elect a president with no experience primarily because he or she doesn’t have experience? Will we recognize that we can’t ever get everything we want? Will our president have his name on buildings?
Holding hands and singing John Lennon’s greatest hits together won’t make our country perfect. There will be fights and disagreements and grid-lock and anger and scandals and lies and corruption.
Maybe if we all tried a little harder to talk rather than yell, to debate rather than fight, to respect knowledge and experience rather than treating them as insults, maybe then we could start to ease the frustration and division in our country. I can’t tell you what to do. But do something. Look at your candidate of choice, and ask yourself, “Will he/she be willing to compromise on small issues so that our government can function instead of trapping itself in perpetual grid-lock”?
If the answer is no, then it might be time to change opinions. I know I have.