Trump, Sanders Similarities Explain Poll Standings

U.S. presidential hopeful Donald Trump holds up a signed pledge during a press availability at Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York
U.S. presidential hopeful Donald Trump holds up a signed pledge during a press availability at Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York September 3, 2015. The pledge is an agreement with the RNC to not to run as an independent candidate if he loses the Republican Party nomination, a party official said, despite Trump’s earlier refusals to rule out a third-party bid. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson – RTX1QZ9K

Vermont’s Bernie Sanders and New York’s Donald Trump may not seem to have a lot in common – not least because they actually don’t, except for one thing: As long-shot outsiders when they declared themselves to be candidates for president, both have done surprisingly well in crowd-pulling and fund-raising. Bernie’s has been the amazingly simple matter of raising relatively small sums – compared to what major, vested-interest donors provide – from individuals. Fund-raising by Trump – still, surprisingly often ID’d as “The Donald”, a pet name or faux epithet bestowed by a while-back wife –has been, as you’d expect of someone totally oriented toward tugging dollars out of hidden crevices, via the sale of the likes of hats bearing his likeness or a campaign phrase.

Sanders redefines – or harks back to – how politics is supposed to be: Oriented toward actually serving the people as a ‘public servant’ president is sworn to be. The (or just plain) Donald defines the opposite extreme – serve the candidate and his opinions, anticipating the ‘great unwashed masses’ will follow.

[Please see the link for an interesting history of the cited phrase, leading as well to the acknowledged originator of the phrases “the pen is mightier than the sword” and, of all things, what’s been described as “a literary tragedy”: as the worst novel launch ever: “It was a dark and stormy night.” Most times, references don’t get more interesting than this!]

Donald Trump’s best qualification for being president seems, so far, to be his status as “I’m very rich.” That he’s opinionated – very opinionated – is a given. It’s amazing that more than 90 percent of the all-too-numerous photos of him exhibit his mouth in an open, opinion-spewing mode!

Bernie Sanders has a relatively long, quite distinguished history as one of two senators of a small, up-against-the-wall-please Conservative state – where seldom is heard a discouraging word . . . and practically never is someone ordered up-against-the-wall.

Vermont is a pleasant place. A peaceful place. A place where neighbors get along. Where visitors marvel at the local cheese, and opportunities – as I once took, in the mid ‘60’s – to enjoy same with a nice bottle of wine alongside a country byway. Very much like a wine/cheese picnic my then wife and I enjoyed on a few years later on a Swiss hillside. Much as I love Vermont, I’d far rather be, and reside, in Switzerland! So close to Italy, and to France, and to Monaco, where I once actually won at the casino. (Well, not actually in the casino, but in the entranceway, where there were a couple of slot machines. My wife and I agreed to dedicate one franc to ‘the game’. Hers failed to score. Mine hit for two – putting us in the ‘break-even’ column – a  ‘plus’, given that we could have been two francs down!)

Vermonters don’t, for the most part, have significant political differences. Theirs is a ‘live and let live’ environment.

Sanders’ appeal to voters primarily is his appearance of honestly, his straight-forwardness toward goals he (rightly) sees as necessary to right a lot of the wrongs several recent congresses have foist upon us.

Trump, well, he’s something else again: A non-politician who expresses in sometimes excessively strong ways, opposition to things – such as immigration reform – the country needs, collectively, to address.

He is, as the head of a ministry said to me a couple of days ago, “divisive”.  He talks of a 100-foot wall between the U.S. and Mexico, and banning all Muslims who might want to come here from doing so.

He says “look at that face” about one of his Republican competitors, and degrades others in assorted other ways. He takes ‘outspoken’ to an entirely new, rude level!

Were the eventual ‘real’ race – in which, of course, no vote will be cast for roughly eleven months – to boil down to a race between Sanders and Trump, all bets would be off: Trump has a huge and apparently growing following, and he can personally support any spending he feels he needs to do – beyond benefiting from all the ‘free’ coverage the national media is providing.

Sanders, too, has a strong following, largely comprising people with views diametrically opposed to Trump’s, but Sanders isn’t independently wealthy, and no matter how many small contributions he get, he’d have a tough time competing in the ludicrous, and criminally expensive national advertising ‘race’. (THAT, cost-wise, is this country’s main ‘race problem’).

Neither would have fun trying to win legislative victories in Congress, thanks to the hold the Republicans are likely to still hold – despite defeats they’re likely to suffer – a year from now.

But then there’s this: A Trump opposer crashed a Trump focus group a couple of days ago, intending to be both a disrupting factor and to learn what is driving people into Trump’s camp. He succeeded on both counts – and came away hoping, in an odd but understandable twist of logic, that Trump will win the Republican nomination . . . and be soundly beaten in the general election.

“I want him to get the nomination to get completely destroyed in the general. The older generation in my party needs to understand we can’t have this pro-war, anti-immigrant nonsense anymore… we need to lose this [election] in order to ever win again,” said Michael Wille, a former Romney campaign staffer.

Not that I’d ever want to see Republicans with the mindset of the current ‘leaders’ of the party or their supporters win even a single election, but Wille has a point: His party is close to a breaking – as in breaking-up – point, because the extreme right wing goals it is pursuing really, are truly not what the majority of Americans want.

If old Abe, credited as the founder of the current Republican party, can roll enough in his grave to wish up for his present-day successors a sensible candidate, one who actually pays attention to the wants of people not on the outer fringe of the party, there’s an outside chance the party could again win the White House – and win back all the Congressional seats they are otherwise likely to lose next November.

I once sent a note to Eric Cantor, one of the most extremely conservative members of that party until he was soundly beaten by an upstart in 2008. I said that I really wished I could move one voting district east, to be in his, so I could – as an actual Cantor constituent – fight his every action in Washington.

I couldn’t move, but it didn’t matter: His loss was surprisingly decisive: His constituents did not agree with his positions – meaning, he wasn’t fairly representing his district.

There isn’t, truly, one strong Republican candidate – one who might actually win the general election. The odds that Hillary Clinton will be the next president are increasing daily.

I don’t trust Clinton – her or her husband. But, more importantly, I don’t fear what she might do as president. I most definitely fear what any of the not-particularly-gifted Republican candidates might do if elected.

It’s a sad state of affairs when anyone in this country – including recent immigrants – truly has a lot to fear from a potential president from a party that’s clearly demonstrated, over the past seven or more years, how uninterested and unable it is to serve the best interests of this country’s citizens – existing and aspiring.

The new beard of that party’s new leader, House Speaker Paul Ryan, doesn’t make him appear more ‘Lincolnesque’, wiser or too busy with his newly expanded duties to shave. It makes him look like someone desperately anxious to capture the attention of a younger generation that, for whatever reason, considers either tended or untended facial foliage to be ‘cool’. Nothing that Paul Ryan, or any other leading member of his party, has or might do will ever make them look or appear to be ‘cool’.

From right now, that party has about two, maybe two and a half years, to rethink its strategy, find a couple of potential-candidate-like-people who can really who can live and breathe the ‘new message’ – or Hillary will be a shoe-in as a two-termer – the first of her gender to ever officially serve as something more powerful than First Lady. (In Reagan’s waning years, as Alzheimer’s snuck up on him, Nancy more than likely came pretty close, on many occasions, to acting in his stead.)

‘Odd that no one’s studied that!


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