Monday, August 31, 2015

Surprising Bedfellows

As the US Presidential election hots up, with both parties looking to field the candidate who they think can win the White House next year, a rather odd phenomenon seems to be taking place, a rare event in politics wherein there are two candidates on opposing sides who seem to be saying the absolute truth, to the best of their knowledge. It is no secret that honestly is a huge liability in politics - why let a little matter like the truth get in the way of a grand election victory? - but it is for the same reason that now, honesty has become such a novelty that it is attracting unlikely crowds.

And the strangest thing of all is the fact that each party seems to have exactly one candidate who is trying to be 100% honest, to the best of their abilities. On the Republican side is billionaire Donald Trump, who has made it his signature style to be politically incorrect and speak his mind forcefully - even if that entails antagonizing Latino voters as well as people in his own party. His ideas, however asinine they may seem, are what he honestly believes to be the solution to America's problems. He genuinely believes that China and Mexico are the leaders of the anti-American front and promises to take them on squarely. And in terms of jobs, he does have a point, albeit a very limited one.

For the Democrats, there is Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who has made his rather left wing ideas be known to the country at large, with surprising favor. At Quad Day in UIUC, I was surprised to find a spirited group of people raising support for him - rather his idea of free public college education. However fiscally difficult this may be, he genuinely believes in it. Moreover, he has repeatedly ticked off the media for focusing on non-issues such as whose head Marco Rubio hit with a football and has spoken with vigor about issues that really do matter to people. This is something that has caught everybody off guard because who talks about issues these days?

Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders seem strange bedfellows, but in fact, they are very similar in that they speak their mind freely and openly and do not conform to the centrist vision of politics that essentially involves trying to make everyone happy with hurting everyone in the process. Short of a major political earthquake however, it is highly unlikely that either of them (and much less both) will be squaring off against an opponent after the primaries. What a pity.  

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