The results are in. Super Tuesday, the SEC primary, is now over. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have consolidated their leads. The primaries are not over–there are still quite a few delegates up for grabs–but, if nothing surprising happens, the two front-runners will soon wrap up their nominations.
While this was called Super Tuesday, I’m not so sure it was great. No, I’m not taking about Donald and Hillary winning or the positioning of the other candidates. I’m talking about the big picture.
Candidates on both sides of the divide have tapped into voter frustration with how our government operates or doesn’t operate. Bernie Sanders has quite a bit in common with Ted Cruz and Donald Trump in terms of voter appeal. Voters are angry with Washington and want to shake things up. The question is whether any of the candidates can actually do more than talk about changing things.
Many agree with Sanders when he says the system is rigged. Others agree with the negative things Trump and Cruz are saying about the government. Most people agree that money plays too big of a role in influencing policy. Our leaders vote to serve their interests rather than the country’s interests. Want a few more deep-seated problems to consider? Gerrymandering has corrupted the voting process. The emphasis on seeking political advantage has outweighed compromise and getting things done. Okay, I could add more, but you already know why the car is hard to start. Can any of the candidates running for the presidency fix it?
Sander realizes that the presidency is powerful, but he knows he needs a revolution to bring about real change. Can he start the revolution? He would be the most likely candidate to make some needed repairs, but I don’t think he can stop the rust that’s grinding the American government to a halt. Trump probably thinks he can shake things up on his own, but if he were elected, people would eventually tire of him, and he’d probably end up being largely ignored. He’s not a reliable mechanic. Cruz is more of a flame thrower. No one wants to hang around the torch when he cuts into the metal. He hasn’t been able to bring people together. Change requires someone willing to negotiate. Clinton and Rubio are establishment candidates. They seem able to work as a part of a team, but they will work within the existing system. A bit of polish here and there to make the car look better.
So, for all those who are disappointed by all of the candidates running for office because they won’t be able to bring about the desired changes, I suggest that what is needed is a new party. No, I don’t think it’s likely to happen, but if a new party emerged that focused on reform started at the local level, things could be different in 20 years. Both parties are divided now, so the opportunity to bring together people who are more focused on reforming the democratic process than on tearing down the government or tearing apart people, it could happen. No single leader can fix the car at this point. Many powerful people like the car just as it is. If the American people choose carefully, the newly elected president may help keep the car running, but like rust on a car (which begins by making the paint look bad, then eats into the body’s metal, then destroys the frame), if we do not find a long-term solution, our government may dissolve. A new party may be the answer. The party must focus on cutting out the rust and getting new parts to repair what’s been damaged over the years. We have to shift our thinking from looking for a single mechanic to fix things to considering how we can work with others to make repairs.