This presidential election is producing two major party nominees with extremely high unfavorable ratings. You’re probably either a big fan of either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, or you dislike them both a lot. If you’re part of that large latter group, you might think this presidential election is a disaster.
What if it’s not? Is it possible to lament this year’s results and still see the good in this year’s process? Yes.
The American political system in recent decades has grown stale, with both parties offering cliched, uncreative arguments designed more to appeal to special interest groups than to solve problems. Important issues – such as how the global economy is affecting America’s lower middle class – haven’t really fit into the script. No wonder so many voters have dropped out or never dropped in.
Say what you will about Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, but they don’t read off a script. And thanks to them, the campaign is largely about often-ignored issues such as income inequality, crony capitalism, campaign finance reform, and the fact that the global economy produces both winners and losers. Trump has shown that a candidate can speak like an actual person by refusing to bow to political correctness. Sanders has offered big government prescriptions without pretending that he’s not – which means that at least he’s honest about it – and he’s showing that strong convictions, sincerely expressed, can inspire a lot of voters and small donors.
Importantly, Trump and Sanders have shown that elections can be decided by actual voters, not big money or the party establishment, each of which dislikes them both. They’ve done this in part by attracting millions of new voters to the process: Trump, disaffected blue collar workers; and Sanders, young people. While Jeb Bush, the anointed one, and his allies spent $130 million to no effect, Trump won his party’s nomination through his use of the media and social media, both of which cost candidates very little. Sanders is competing well with Clinton through small donations given by average people.
Moreover, the next few months could inspire Americans to seriously consider their political alternatives. It’s possible – though unlikely – that conservatives will rally behind a third party or independent candidate. The small-government Libertarian Party likely again will nominate former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, a legitimate candidate. Americans who want 40 choices in the cereal aisle may finally be open to more than two at the ballot box.
Finally, this election – and the past two – have reflected American diversity like none before. After eight years of having our first African-American president, Americans may next give that job to a female – 96 years after women finally attained the right to vote. Two of the four leading Republican vote-getters, Sen. Ted Cruz and Sen. Marco Rubio, are the sons of Latino immigrants. Sanders is Jewish. Dr. Ben Carson advanced farther than any African-American has ever advanced in a Republican primary.
Let’s not discount that this election has produced much divisiveness and two major party nominees many of us don’t support. At times, it’s been extremely discouraging for voters like me. I voted for Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
But let’s also not ignore the rest of the truth. This campaign has upset a status quo that needs to be upset, inspired millions of people who previously didn’t vote, shown that voters aren’t complete hostages to big money and the party establishments, and celebrated America’s diversity by producing diverse candidates.
Same-old, same-old will not solve America’s problems. Maybe in 2020, a plain-speaking, budget-balancing problem-solver can apply lessons learned from Trump and Sanders.
Of course, in my opinion, we had that in Kasich. But he lost. So God bless America. This is the system we have, and the people are speaking – loudly. It’s imperfect but seldom disastrous. In world history, most people would trade theirs for ours.