It strikes me that there are two fundamental elements driving the anger we see in the American political system today. These elements are envy and change.
Americans that are “doing well” very much dislike any change that results in them doing “less well.” Americans that are not “doing well” envy those that are “doing well” and immediately subscribe to any politician that says the root cause of their “not doing well” is an “unfair playing field (i.e., it’s not your fault; it’s the ‘other guy’s’ fault).”
Because of the current remarkably unusual presidential election cycle, we have pundits that like to call this “anger” Trumpism. But as I see it, Trump is simply the politician, or “non-politician” if you prefer, who calculated that tapping into this anger was the road to the nomination. The pundits didn’t have a clue and still do not. They were anticipating “politics as usual.” Jeb Bush was the “politics as usual candidate (oops).” The pundits fell into the “we don’t like change that makes our life less good” group, and they are “angry.” They are “angry” at Trump because he made them look like fools.
But let’s face it. Trump didn’t cause the “anger,” he simply used it to manipulate a calcified political process. Oh, I am not saying that he didn’t fan the flames of “anger,” because indeed he did. But that was his game plan and it was unbelievably successful. In my humble opinion, this is why he seems to change positions on a daily basis. He simply says what he sees at the moment as cementing the voting public’s preconceived reasons to be “angry.” Trump is the hero of the “we hate change” crowd.
Bernie Sanders tapped into the anger from the “envy” side of the equation. Seriously, have you seen a Bernie political speech? He is practically apoplectic with anger. When I see the anger on the Democrat side of the presidential debate (i.e., “feel the Bern”), I see Trump as the lesser “angry politician.” When Bernie is gone and it is Trump v Hillary, Trump will goad Hillary into being angrier than Bernie before the election is over. Trump, isn’t personally “angry.” He’s a master manipulator and at the moment he is manipulating yours and my “anger.” It is also why I believe that more Bernie supporters will move toward Trump than toward Hillary.
The moment of clarity for me in my switch from skeptic to supporter of Donald Trump was when I realized that there is much about which we have a right to be “angry.” A friend and reader sent me an article by Dr. Charles Murray (and thanks KC for sending it). I highly recommend that you read it (not just the article itself but the comments that follow). Both are quite illuminating.
[From Dr. Murray’s article] Trumpism is an expression of the legitimate anger that many Americans feel about the course that the country has taken, and its appearance was predictable. It is the endgame of a process that has been going on for a half-century: America’s divestment of its historic national identity.
For the eminent political scientist Samuel Huntington, writing in his last book, “Who Are We?” (2004), two components of that national identity stand out. One is our Anglo-Protestant heritage, which has inevitably faded in an America that is now home to many cultural and religious traditions. The other is the very idea of America, something unique to us. As the historian Richard Hofstadter once said, “It has been our fate as a nation not to have ideologies but to be one.”
This latter fact is what I believe the Democrat Party has sought to change. And this drastic error on their part was done for political expediency, to cement their stranglehold on the American political system. Over the past 100 years the Democratic party has held power nearly twice as long as the Republicans. If Americans are angry, they need to direct that anger at the architects of “change” and “envy” – the Democrat Party.