NEW CASTLE, Pa., April 25, 2016 — The 2016 election, starring Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, continues to be the most entertaining national campaign in memory. Although the likelihood of a Trump-Clinton showdown in November appears more and more concrete, fans of this political blood sport struggle to let go of a surprise Bernie Sanders or Ted Cruz upset.
On the Republican side, it is well-known that Donald Trump is not liked by the political establishment to the point it is even willing to stomach the distasteful Ted Cruz to stop his nomination. Despite Trump’s ability to win over Republican voters in key states like New York and Pennsylvania, the GOP establishment still hopes to find an alternative to Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.
Democrats have also toyed with the idea of somehow selecting someone like Joe Biden in a bid to provide a more favorable, more electable choice.
On the other hand, the majority of Republican and Democratic voters view Trump, Clinton, and Cruz as unfavorable with Sanders hovering near the 40 percent unfavorable mark. When it comes to the parties and their representatives in the U.S. government, the situation only gets worse. Quite frankly, it is clear that the American people are not pleased with the events of the 2016 election or the political industry as a whole.
An important question to ask is, therefore, Will American voters be more upset if these unpopular candidates are nominated or the party establishment seeks alternatives?
It is important to recognize that voters are not simply seeking the removal of deeply entrenched political leaders. Anti-establishment sentiments are dominating the discussion of the 2016 election. While more evident on the right with the rise of Donald Trump, they are also apparent on the left with the support for Bernie Sanders.
For Democrats, Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders have personified the very notion of anti-establishment. Where the right has targeted government overreach and spending, the left sees special interests and their undue influence on the government that comes at the expense of the American people as the most pressing threat.
Although so-called tea party candidates were able to capitalize on the backlash against Obama’s victories and failure to live up to inflated expectations in 2010, backlash against their efforts to impede government helped demoralize impassioned voters in 2012 while pushing moderate-leaning Republicans back toward the party establishment. In 2010 and 2012, voter apathy among Democrats helped deliver victories to the Republicans
The emerging dynamic demonstrates a rejection of the party establishments as well as of the overall political establishment in what appears to be an uncoordinated effort to purge government. They are purging government of deeply entrenched political leaders, political money, special interests, dysfunctional bureaucrats, powerful technocrats and all other parties that perpetuate the status quo of a government that no longer seems to serve them. Voters support candidates who they feel will confront these establishment groups instead of appeasing them.
With that in mind, American voters may not like someone like Donald Trump, but they do not like the political establishment even more and do not want the political establishment to interfere in primary results. Because Hillary Clinton is seen as the benefactor and embodiment of the political establishment, voters might be more willing to accept an alternative candidate, but her armies of supporters will not.
Finally, it is important to recognize the reasons Donald Trump was able to gain so much support and why he is seen as unfavorable by elites. In essence, Trump took campaigning to a whole new level and embodied most of the things the majority of Americans find distasteful about campaign rhetoric, thereby trumping the entirety of the political establishment.
The cure is, therefore, not to block Trump or interfere in the political process in any way; it is to fix the issues the American people have with the political system.