As several politicos have noted, 2016 is an "outsider" election year, as voters on both sides are rebelling against their parties' rulers. For the political establishment that destroyed the country's working class with foreign and domestic policy blunders alike, ranging from the Iraq War to the economic collapse to a variety of bad trade deals, the chickens are finally coming home to roost. Even politicians like Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) have realized this is what's driving campaigns like businessman Donald Trump's on the right and Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-VT) on the left. But as we enter the final stretch of the primary season, the key difference now is the Republican establishment is making peace with the fact that Trump will be their nominee, barring anything unexpected happening in Cleveland. And despite Trump's gaffes and brash attitude towards campaigning, he's indeed winning the GOP's popular vote and bringing excited people into the party, including many Independents and Democrats. This shows how strong the resentment for the establishment is with voters in 2016, and highlights what the Trump campaign is doing right. Because while Trump may mistakenly blame immigrants and Muslims for a variety of unverified problems, he isn't wrong to rail against a corrupt political class of politicians who no longer work for the American people, as well as their financiers.
The disappointing thing is that with Sanders, the Democrats have also had -- and still have -- an anti-establishment candidate who rails against a corrupt political class and the people who finance them, but his campaign's been essentially blocked by the party's leaders. His stances on the Iraq War, Wall Street and trade deals like NAFTA and TPP are all the same as Trump's, but far more credible since he actually fought against them in Congress. Furthermore, he doesn't blame anything on immigrants or Muslims, but actually wins the Muslim vote in some states. Nonetheless, Democratic leaders have succeeded thus far in diminishing Sanders' candidacy, from stacking their debate schedule and marginalizing him in media coverage, to simply using their superdelegate process to lock up hundreds of top Democrats' "votes" before any primaries were even held. The party's state bosses did their parts as well, from holding closed primaries across the country to purging voter rolls and eliminating polling places. And for what? For a candidate like former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton? The very definition of the political establishment? Someone who voted for the Iraq War, made speeches to Wall Street and supported NAFTA, all negatives the American people are upset about? Not to mention that the same people who supported and benefitted from those failed policies are bankrolling her campaign through Super PACs today, while other big GOP donors admit Clinton would actually be preferable for them to have in office. And now Clinton's campaign is reaching out to these donors? Does this sound like a candidate who is anti-establishment in any capacity? Republican voters flatly rejected former Florida governor Jeb Bush as an untrustworthy establishment candidate from a political dynasty, so why can't Democrats reject Clinton?
As I and others have noted, Clinton supporters and Democrat loyalists should not be surprised if their party loses to Trump in November, especially when they still have a chance to nominate a perfectly good "outsider" candidate like Sanders. They shouldn't be surprised that polls show Trump beats Clinton in the general election or that a race between them is already incredibly close. They shouldn't be surprised by movements like #BernieOrBust or #NeverHillary, or that Sanders' supporters will likely write-in Sanders, vote third party or even possibly support Trump before supporting Clinton, as Susan Sarandon and others have vowed to do. Let's also not forget that nothing will unite the GOP behind Trump more than running a divisive candidate like Hillary. With Sanders the Democrats had someone who was -- and still is -- not only more electable than Clinton, but who is bringing millions of millennials, working people and independents into their party. And instead of embracing this, the Democratic elites are already just trying to figure out how Sanders can lose at the convention without causing a scene. Although the path to win the nomination is admittedly narrow for the Vermont senator, I sincerely hope Democratic leaders aren't just counting on the unpopularity of Trump to force an untrustworthy establishment candidate like Clinton down the throats of the left. In an "outsider" election year like this one -- an election that will certainly be decided by Independents and average Americans who are finally getting involved in the political process once again -- it could very well cost them the White House.