I don’t like to write political articles because to me, political beliefs are like religious beliefs – neither is right, neither is wrong, and both are based on faith and perspective. However, when the democratic process is being undermined, I feel the inspiration to speak.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was a time of great chaos, yet a time of great unity. It was a time of revolution yet a time of complacency. It was a time when voices spoke out, yet a time when voices were silenced. It was a time of the extreme right, and a time of the extreme left.
It was a time in which people had enough, and a time in which the outsiders were in.
It was the 2016 election.
When people write the tale of the 2016 election, I hope they will look past the mainstream headlines, look past the ” businessman wins nomination” or “socialist challenges a Clinton,” look past the bombastic language, the political correctness v incorrectness, look past all the sensationalism and see it for what it was –
A time when the democratic process was challenged.
Putting political ideology aside, the voters made one concern very clear as they took to the polls in the primaries: they had enough with political machines and insiders. Democrats and Republicans alike rejected the anticipated match up between a Clinton and a Bush, two political monarchs that epitomize the political machine they were fighting against. The Cruzes, Rubios, and Chrysties were rejected and showed poorly in polling and in delegates. Instead, two men who spoke their truths, two men who ignited the crowds with plain talk and “radical” ideas, took center stage and challenged the status quo. Both men were mocked, told they “would never be considered a serious candidate,” and both were expected to drop out after Ohio. Yet both have been credited with a movement that spoke to the angst of the America voter.
But how each party handled these usurpers to the anointed anticipated nominees were handled very very differently, and that is where our tale of two parties takes it dark turn.
In the first party, the establishment tried to strike down its outsider opponent by mocking him to the press, by pulling their former anointed ones out of retirement to speak out against him, to push a NeverHim movement, and to try to change the very rules that would have been used to nominate one of them. The people, however, would have none of it. Discontent among the voters sent a clear message that if their choice of nominee was not respected, there would be chaos on the floor. People would stay home and not vote. They would vote 3rd party. They would revolt against the party that claimed their voice mattered. The party would crumble.
The message was loud enough that even party leaders had to listen. Meetings were held to come to a compromise. Deals were probably made. Negotiations were conducted. The party softened their language towards the usurper, and the usurper softened his language as well. Despite residual discontent, the leaders came to a conclusion – support him. Those who couldn’t reach that same conclusion stayed home, but the party leaders fell in line.
During the coronation, voices were not silenced. People chanted their discontent, held signs against him, and his main challengers was even allowed to speak and support those who were against him. Democracy was able to be messy, but in the end, the non-supporter was booed off the stage, the absent leaders were barely mentioned let alone missed, and unity was achieved, allowing full support to be an ongoing process. I’m not saying everyone supported him, but at least they weren’t silenced. And, the American voter was not silenced either. Both voices were heard.
But while one party allowed the democratic process to choose their nominee even against their own interest, the other party took an opposite approach.
The second party did not allow the voters to be heard. Recently released emails indicate that their usurper was crushed with backdoor dealings. While claiming neutrality and mocking the other party’s discontent, the hypocritical party leaders put their thumbs on the scale to benefit their anointed candidate. Talks about using his religion against him, and disparaging remarks against the very demographics they claimed to champion were revealed to the public and gave voters a glimpse behind the red curtain. The political machine the revolutionist highlighted was proven to be a fact and was used against him. In the midst of the betrayal felt by his supporters, party leaders continued to silence their voices. At the coronation, they were told they were being “ridiculous,” disciplined like children from the pulpit, and had their signs taken from them. The party that supports free speech and protest has blocked it for their own people. In attempts to unite the party, they are splitting it in two.
This isn’t about whether or not I’m a Sanders supporter, but this is more about undermining the democratic process than showing solidarity with one candidate. I’m a Constitutionalist, which means I believe in the Constitution and the laws of this land, laws meant to protect our rights, keep us safe, and safeguard equality and fairness. If this was done to the Trump campaign, I’d be equally as furious. If this was done to Hillary, I’d be just as mad. The fact that it happened to a man who strove to run a “clean” campaign, a man who warned the public that the system was working against him, and a man whose main platform was fighting against the political machine makes it that much more damaging to the party and to the American voter. Democracy is a messy process. There will be debates, negotiations, and hurt feelings. Sometimes the choice of the party is not the choice of the people, but the people must must be heard. If it means the party leaders lose their power, so be it. If it means party leaders must swallow their egos, so be it. The truth is Sanders never had a chance. The party was working against him and would block him even if he did win enough delegate. The RNC tried with Trump but saw how doing so would pull the party asunder. The DNC sacrificed the entire party, the voters of the country, and perhaps now even the election in order to make Hillary Clinton their candidate. Democracy was sacrificed at the altar of party interests and, thankfully was revealed to all. I don’t care who did it (Russia?) or why – the more pressing issue is that it was in fact done. A mere apology or stepping down of a chair is not enough to repair the damage done to our process or to the election of 2016.
But the moral of the tale of 2016 will live on – that you cannot silence the people or they will revolt against you. It is better to listen to people who hate you than to take their signs away from them as they enter the building. It does better for unity to respect all voices, even dissenting ones, than to write secret emails in order to work against them. Truth always trumps lies.
I do not know who will win this election, or how this tale will end, but one thing is clear – democracy won, for better or for worse. One candidate was able to quell discontent by allowing dissenters, while another became the martyr for revealing the truth. The people in both parties have proven their voices are more important than a candidate or a party. Unity is achieved by allowing all voices to be heard and so is democracy. And that is a far better thing than we could every do.