I was asked to write a piece for Kettle Magazine in the UK about the major divide in American politics. I took the opportunity to not only highlight the massive differences between the Republican Party and the Democratic Party, but I saw a good opportunity to discuss the divide between the Clinton and Sanders campaign and the new face of liberalism in the country.
The polarization in American politics today seems to be more obvious in the 2016 election than ever before. America’s two party system has always had stark differences of opinion on how to run the country. The Republicans focus more on what they call personal accountability, still believing in the American dream that if you work hard, good things will come to you. Democrats, on the other hand, believe the American system is rigged in favor of more privileged Americans and that the American dream is simply not a reality for many poor or minority families who are not given a fair chance. Democrats tend to support social welfare programs such as food stamps, lower housing costs, and programs that make healthcare more affordable.
While the Republicans in this election tend to stand for many of the same issues, they are currently battling for the conservative vote by showing the American people who much more they dislike things such as social welfare programs, immigrants, and of course, terrorism, and more importantly in their mind, Muslims.
When someone like Donald Trump, the current Republican frontrunner says the U.S. should ban all Muslims from entering the country and the ones currently living here should be entered into a database, he saw a massive rise in the polls. While other candidates like Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush spoke out against such language, they had to find a way to show those voters they would protect them from the illusionary terrorist threat more than Trump would. Each candidate had their own plan to stop President Obama from letting any Syrian refugees into the country, even going as far to suggest we should only allow Christian refugees to enter the nation.
On the other side of the aisle, the Democratic Party is having its own riff. If you would have asked anyone a year ago who would be the Democratic nominee for president, Hillary Clinton would have been the answer without a thought. She was a shoe in, polls in states like New Hampshire had her winning the primary with ease and no real contender was in sight to challenge her ascension to the throne, figuratively speaking.
Then entered Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. A well-known senator who was the only known socialist, albeit a democratic socialist, in congress and an independent. Sanders, who always caucused with the Democrats decided to run for president as a Democrat because the current two-party system would not have made a run as an independent possible. Sanders came in like a storm and pulled all the wind out of the Clinton campaign and challenged her on countless issues, bringing them to a virtual tie in the Iowa Caucus and seeing Sanders beat Clinton in New Hampshire, what was called a sure fire win for her, by multiple points; Sanders brought in over 60 percent of the Democratic votes in the state, a record for any presidential primary.
photo credit: Image: Gage Skidmore / Creative Commons