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Monday, July 13, 2015

The People in Search of a Spokesman

For John, BLUFThe year 1968 may be a long time ago, but the political dynamics seem to be getting a replay.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

This morning on City Life (George Anthes, Ann Wofford and myself) we discussed the candidacy of both Senator Bernie Sanders and Real Estate Mogul Donald Trump (aka The Donald).  Bother are otherwise unlikely candidates, but they are speaking to large segments of our population.  As Law Professor Glenn Reynolds has said, "if you ignore people they’ll find their own spokesman."

Professor Reynolds provided the long form version of that comment in an OpEd for USA Today, "The Donald and Bernie show".  The sub-headline is "When party outsiders feel ignored, a champion appears to take their interests to heart."

Here is the lede:

Political parties exist, first and foremost, to serve the interest of the insiders, while doling out just enough in the way of favors and ideological satisfaction to keep the party outsiders on the reservation.  But when the members of the "Outer Party" feel sufficiently ignored, a champion appears who will take their interests to heart, or at least sound as if he does.

That's what's happening in both parties with the rise of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., (actually, he identifies as a Socialist, but caucuses with, and apparently now is campaigning as, a Democrat) and Republican Donald Trump (actually he identifies mostly with himself, and campaigns mostly on TV talk shows).  Each, in his own way, speaks to the concerns of constituencies within his party (and, interestingly, to some degree the other party) that are being ignored or dismissed by the insiders.

The opinion piece concludes:
Both Sanders and Trump pose threats to their respective establishments.  Sanders might be another Eugene McCarthy, who garnered tremendous enthusiasm in 1968 while sapping the energy of Democratic establishment candidate Hubert Humphrey, who went on to lose.  Trump might turn out to be another Ross Perot, whose plain talk about deficits excited a lot of GOP voters who then saw George H.W. Bush as an unappetizing substitute.

In a democratic polity, you can't ignore the concerns of large numbers of voters forever.  Both Democrats and Republicans are learning that lesson yet again.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

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