To us, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump seem two sides of the same coin. Both are using their respective parties as convenient transportation in a desired direction and neither has paid his fare for the ride. Sanders has been tolerated as a necessary foil for Hillary Clinton’s coronation while Mr. Trump was considered self-appointed comic relief by the GOP until it realized that the voters weren’t laughing. But no one appears to be discussing the most significant issue in this election.
That issue is: Who controls the passing of political power in the United States?
In China, that is done by the Communist Party, at gunpoint, though elections are regularly held. In today’s United States, we seem to be deciding whether it will be done by “the Establishment,” a series of alternating political dynasties within a uniparty with one Democratic and one Republican end, also holding elections as theater.
Sanders’ unexpected primary success shows that a significant number of Democrats still think voters should have something to say about who rules. Trump’s success rests, we suppose, on numbers of Republicans making the same statement. And the two party establishments are huddled together in shock, assembling political assassins to remove their unwanted players. Both parties are hampered, we think, in being internally divided just as is the country itself, weakening their responses. And Sanders and Trump therefore thrive.So far.
But the real question is how much longer will voters continue to matter in reality, and who will wield the political power that their voting has represented? If the Establishment succeeds in replacing Sanders/Trump by nominating an Establishment choice, say by manipulating “superdelegates” or a backroom deal at a contested convention, legitimacy of government may come into question. Very bad things can occur in such times.
And if Sanders or Trump is a nominee and then elected, such an event will be another substantial uncertainty, though not one that leaves the voters feeling robbed. Interesting times indeed …
But from the longer view, perhaps the most significant element in this melange is whether the voters or the political Establishment will be deciding who holds power in the future. The result, whichever way it goes, will be quite different.