What was the catalyst for the outsiders phenomenon that is sweeping the Trump rallies and Bernie Sanders again closing in on establishment candidate Hillary Clinton?
It may not look like it from the outside, since ultimately Obama was elected and has since become the consummate insider, but the Democratic Party is just as much a victim of the outsider phenomenon as the Republican Party. Once the cat was let out of the bag with the selections of Palin and Obama, the parties’ establishment wings have found it next to impossible to control the outsider sentiment within their ranks. A lot of ink has been spilled over this issue of ‘voter anger’ as a driving force behind this phenomenon. Staring into the eye great recession, in the wake of a decade-long war in the middle-east, and amidst a burgeoning national debt, sky high oil prices and crippling unemployment, such anger was palpable and visceral.
But that only tells half the story. Americans vented their frustration in a sense by electing President Obama, not once, but twice. Europe went so far as to crown Obama as the prince of peace before he even had a chance to end any war. The recession abated over time as they usually do – and whether Obama’s seamanship or the arrival of fairer winds is to blame for the turn in our nation’s fortunes – surely the country is now on a far better track than it was eight years ago. And yet the anger persists. It is evident in the crowds that appear at political rallies, and in the strident tone of the candidates. Not one of them pledges to maintain the current course. All of them believe the country is still way off course, although for different reasons. The voter anger of today is harder to place, more deeply entrenched in the national psyche. None of the candidates have been able to coin a term for it, and yet it is recognized, like the gravitational pull of a black hole, by its’ effect on the matter surrounding it. In the political universe the equivalent of matter is the party establishment.
In this election the issues are merely a canvas for a deeper seated malaise. Of course people would like to have a more secure border, a less volatile global environment, more employment opportunities and more prosperity here at home. But it goes deeper than that. There is a sense of polarity among the electorate characterized by significant pluralities at the extremes. The middle is shrinking, both economically and politically.