Yanks Toss the Tea into the Harbor Again: Sanders and Trump

by Diane Francis

bern, trump

The current contest for the White House is seismic and takes a leaf out of the Silicon Valley playbook: Disrupt yourself or someone else will.

Disrupt, by the way, is a euphemism for destroy, and that is exactly what Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are doing. They are dismantling the current political architecture of the United States and doing it with the help of technology.

Like algorithms, they dis-intermediate, or bypass, existing structures that are, in this case, political parties, donors and traditional media.
Both have only joined their respective political parties recently. They are independents that have become party “members of convenience” and thrown their candidacies into the mix, a la American Idol.

Both are also fed up with corrupt campaign finance laws that have allowed donors and vested interests to hijack Congress and the political agenda. Neither has a SuperPAC or mega-donor support — Trump is financing his own campaign and Sanders is relying on ma-and-pa online donations.

Barack Obama demonstrated that ‘outliers’ can get the job done
They are both fed up with the conflicts of interest and questionable track records of their rivals and are not afraid to “out” them, one by one.

And both have bypassed the legacy media and its biases or conflicts, by concentrating on social media campaigns and public events where the electorate can evaluate them without a filter.

By the way, this is not new. This was the template that Barack Obama created eight years ago to win the White House (which is why I forecasted Sanders would rise dramatically back in December.) He not only won but, contrary to the racist and nasty noise surrounding his tenure, he delivered by fixing Wall Street, rolling back the Bush and Reagan tax cuts for the rich, stopping foreign wars and establishing the principal and practice of universal health care. He demonstrated that “outliers” can get the job done.

This reality show is the most fascinating since Americans are engaged in the next iteration of their nation
It’s also important to note that Sanders and Trump share the same overriding message: the system as well as the economy is rigged, because of Big Parties, Big Donors, Big Corporations.

Sanders believes campaign laws have allowed a “billionaire class” to take over the country. Trump blames corrupt campaign laws for allowing “stupid people” to be politicians and run the country into the ground.

Both, by the way, oppose open-ended free trade. Sanders believes these deals mostly benefit corporations, not workers, and Trump believes they mostly benefit foreign countries.Both want immigration reform. Trump would build walls and ban Muslims while Sanders supports amnesty for existing illegals through a process, but more restrictions in future.

Both are popular because the U.S. public rejects the current political architecture. Campaign laws and costs have created a political elite that is conflicted, corrupted and/or unaligned with the values of the majority of Americans who are slightly left of center. For instance, credible polls show that the majority of Americans want gun controls; abortion; curbs on big business and trade deals; an end to capital punishment and long prison sentences for non-violent crimes; legalized marijuana and affordable, universal healthcare.

My forecast is that Sanders and Trump will square off in the fall, with Sanders trouncing Trump just because The Donald isn’t “Presidential.”

This forecast is predicated on my belief that Hillary will lose again. She is scripted, conflicted by Wall Street and Big Donors and as the campaign continues will be dogged by investigations concerning donations to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation while she was a Senator and Secretary of State.

Add to that the fact that former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, another New York billionaire, is considering whether or not to run as an independent, not as a Republican. This would siphon away Trump or Republican votes.

Whatever happens, this presidential cycle has destroyed the backroom deal, filtered media messaging and politically correct, carefully scripted candidate. It has also replaced the influence of legacy media, owned by Big Business, with social media, YouTube and the Internet. These are the tech tools that discerning voters will use in future to make their own editorial judgments.

Whatever your leanings, this reality show – the U.S. Presidential race – is the most fascinating since Americans are engaged in the next iteration of their nation. This last earthquake happened a century ago when President Theodore Roosevelt changed the country’s course by taking on the robber barons, helping workers and launching an era of progressive policies.

History doesn’t exactly repeat, but it certainly rhymes.

Published in National Post Feb. 12, 2016