And then, it happened to be an election year. Blaming fingers and dirt bombs smeared the airwaves, and media analysts magnified them to nuclear heights, provoking minds and breeding more anger, more frustration, and more hostility toward those on the other side of the political spectrum.
Anger, frustration, anxiety and fear of the next unspecified economic catastrophe were heaving in small spaces, heating the misty atmosphere, gearing up for a massive explosion.
And then it detonated.
At first, Barak Obama, was elected President of the US, beating two established front-runners, Clinton and McCain, on his way to the top job. People were voting for a dramatic change of epic proportions. It was an unprecedented, inconceivable event. The American voter reached down to the bottom of their racial pecking list and elected an African American as their new president. What’s more, Barack Obama was a first-term Senator, lacking much of any governmental experience.
He was a fresh new face, not part of the establishment. His only advantage was his promised transformation —an unorthodox divergence from a linear political and economic evolution. Voters were looking for a Revolution (with a capital R), and he was it. But this was not the kind of revolution that the political right was visualizing. It was the exact opposite of what they were in search of. President Obama was viewed as a left of left politically, a leader who believed in government intervention, in Keynesian economics doctrine, which calls for massive government spending to boost depressed economic activities. And the political right reacted accordingly.
Following Barack Obama’s announced plans to give financial aid to bankrupt homeowners, CNBC financial reporter Rick Santelli–whose understanding of macroeconomics due to his work with the Chicago Bond Dealers resembles Sara Palin’s understanding of foreign policy due to the view from her master bedroom window, where, on a nice day, she can see Russia—called for a “Tea Party” (a metaphor for the historic “Boston Tea Party”, protesting the newly imposed taxes by the ruling British. It was the spark that escalated into the American Revolution) to protest Obama’s agenda. And the Tea Party movement was born.
In addition to the movement’s focus on a significant reduction in the size and scope of the government and an economy without a government oversight, the Tea Party movement, which became a significant faction inside the Republican Party, has advocated for a lowering of taxes and a balancing of the Federal budget. Its members protested every program proposed by Obama that included new government spending like the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), any form of government stimulus to the private sector. They fought Obamacare, a.k.a. the Affordable Care Act, trying to kill it, time and again, at every opportunity, before and after it had come to light.
The government became the enemy. The Tea Party blamed the troubled economy on the government’s handling of the financial calamity. Party members, guided mostly by “single move chess players” continued to adopt the ill-conceived “Herbert Hoover doctrine”, which brought about the Great Depression, calling for a balanced budget and spending cuts in times of slow economic growth. They came out against any bailout of institutions vital to the overall economy who would otherwise go under while bringing a large segment of the economy down with them.
Accordingly, they viewed Obama as America’s nemesis in chief. Anger at the president turned into open hostility, employing social media as the leading vehicle for dispersing hateful messages including malice-filled lies, and from that point on, no matter what Obama proposed, he was doomed to hit against a red brick Republican wall. Government actions became deadlocked inside the logjam between the White House and Capitol Hill, where any Republican who dared offering a compromise, in a sincere attempt to solve a problem, was deemed a traitor by his own party. The atmosphere was poisoned to a point where Washington as a whole became thoroughly ineffective. It got stuck inside a freeze-frame. The parties’ leaderships, the establishment, the ones in charge of the Washingtonian political impasse were now becoming a target for criticism and contempt. Frustration among the American people swung into a sarcastic vein where anything related to the political establishment was termed ineffective.
Entering 2016, a new election year, the mood in the US was clearly one of anti-establishment. The American people, once again, were looking for a drastic change, a revolution, an out of the ordinary leader, an outsider who would shatter the paralyzing paradigms practiced by the current political establishment, reboot the system and remove the plaque buildup from its clogged arteries.
If America ends up electing a Trump or a Sanders, the disappointment afterword will overshadow the present frustration with the current political establishment.
Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders were the perfect candidates to fill that wishful void. Neither one of them had government experience. Neither one of them understood the political and international constraints surrounding an American Commander in Chief. Both had visions of operating in an unconstrained world. They would offer euphoric solutions to a thirsty, yet naïve public, who would gulp the cool-aid because it relieved their thirst, tasting good before it would kill them.
Experienced leaders and politicians like the Republican governors, Pataki, Christy, Bush, Kasich, and former first lady, senator of New York and secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, who better understood the realities of the job they were seeking, had to damp down on their rhetoric, offering more realistic solutions that lack the revolutionary, unconstrained fantasies sought by potential voters. They were boring, but their visions were in closer step with reality.
If America ends up electing a Trump or a Sanders, the disappointment afterword will overshadow the present frustration with the current political establishment. The high expectations set by these candidates will fail to materialize when reality strikes. The American system with its multiple checks and balances is designed to resist a political revolution; it’s designed to limit the power of a particular branch of government regardless of how ambitious and how proper that branch is.
Come on America. Regain consciousness from whatever you have been smoking. Change can only be gradual in this country, and it can only be accomplished by having non-extremist politicians, willing to compromise with their opponents. Any other course would only yield a rerun of the present status quo.
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