Jim Firth: Bernie Sanders vs. Donald Trump?
There is a populist movement firmly in place in our country and our county. Two presidential candidates, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have energized the U.S. electorate this summer with plain talk, controversial approaches and bigger crowds of supporters unheard of in any presidential primary contests in recent memory. Is this just a summer fling?
Bernie Sanders, a Democratic Party candidate, is speaking before thousands of supporters in rallies all around our country. His messages of support for working families, free college education, a Medicare For All health-care program, expanding social security, closing tax loop-holes for Big Corporations, raising minimum wages have an appeal for progressive minded voters.
Bernie Sanders describes his candidacy in stark contrast to many other serious candidates. “The powers that be, that is corporate America, Wall Street, the insurance companies, the drug companies, the military-industrial complex, these guys are enormously powerful. The only way we can defeat them … the only way we can have a government which begins to work for working people rather than the wealthiest people … is by putting together an unprecedentedly strong grass-roots movement and what I call a political revolution … The other side will have unlimited … sums of money; they control the economy, they have huge power over the media, and obviously they have huge influence over the political process … The only way we win this thing is when people come together. So they got the money, they got the power, but we have the people.”
Donald Trump is a current Republican Party candidate who is using his celebrity to promote himself as the candidate who will bring common sense to the White House. His message is that “politicians” have created a horrible mess where he, Donald, will make our country great again. There are very few specifics so far, and quite a lot of bravado, insults aimed at fellow Republicans, Democrats, and ‘The Media’ that doesn’t treat him with respect.
Bruce Bartlett, a former policy advisor to George H.W. Bush, a few weeks ago wrote an op-ed in which he said the following: “The Trump phenomenon perfectly represents the culmination of populism and anti-intellectualism that became dominant in the Republican Party with the rise of the Tea Party. I think many Republican leaders have had deep misgivings about the Tea Party since the beginning, but the short-term benefits were too great to resist. A Trump rout is Republican moderates’ best chance to take back the GOP.”
The Nevada County Democratic (NCDCC) and Republican (NCRCC) parties are gearing up for the 2016 election season. Delegates to their respective state parties will meet soon. In February 2016, the California Democratic Party (CDP) will hold its annual state convention and in September 2015 the California Republican Party (CRP) will hold their fall convention. I expect presidential candidates will be discussed at both conventions. In June 2016, California will hold its primary elections where voters will offer their choice for presidential candidates to compete in the November 2016 general election. The national conventions determine the party presidential nominee. “Third Party” candidates historically do not do well in national elections.
Bernie Sanders wants to be the Democratic nominee and Donald Trump the Republican nominee in November 2016, and their respective political parties must nominate them. The National Democratic Convention will be held in Philadelphia, and the National Republican Convention will be held in Cleveland, both in July 2016. Each state in our country has a process by which their national convention delegates are selected. In California, the state Democratic Party and Republican Party elect delegates through an internal process. Until the eligible voting population organizes themselves to form a third or fourth major political party, our nation will continue nationally as a two-party system. Given the number and complexity of ‘Communities of Interest’ in the United States, it makes sense to have many more political parties. Until then, we make the most of what is available.
Voters are asked to choose leaders that represent their values and vision for the future. Some politicians want to “move us forward” while others want to “take us back.” Where do Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump stand on the major issues of 2016? Educated people will vote for political candidates based on their understanding of the policy positions of the candidate. Future opinion pieces will try to distinguish the positions of major candidates so you, the voter, can make an informed and educated choice when you vote.
Jim Firth is chairperson of the Nevada County Democratic Central Committee. His opinions are his own, and not those of any organization.
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