By Adam Corson-Finnerty
My wife is convinced that Bernie Sanders could have won. I am not. Election 2016 proved what my high school political science told me years ago. When Americans are riled up about how things are going, they choose an age-old path: Throw the bums out.
The post-election pundits will tell us that Americans voted for “Change,” and in a way they are saying the same thing: throw the bums out.
Don’t get me wrong. I was a strong Hillary supporter. I voted for her and our family donated to Democratic organizations, including Move On. My wife had to swallow her deep disappointment that Bernie didn’t get the nomination and her distaste for the Democratic Machine (think Debbie Wasserman Schultz). In the end she found Trump to be such an obnoxious prospect that she spoke out and donated to help Hillary. We wanted to Stop Trump. We didn’t.
There will be a lot of reading the tea leaves to try to understand why people voted for a candidate with an amorphous policy, rather than one who had clear ideas about how to lead us from “here” to a better “there.” Op-Ed-ers will try to analyze the Trump voter, hoping to discern what he or she wanted when they pulled that lever or pushed that button. There will be a lot of theories, and a minute dissection of the angry and disgruntled white voter. They will hope to understand what these voters, who with no ground game, a disunited party, and less money to throw around — what were they voting for? Why did they prevail?
The answer is easy. They were voting to throw the bums out. And here we come to the one insight that may help us redeem the country in 2018 and 2020: the Bernie voters also wanted to throw the bums out. And not a different set of bums: it was the same set of bums.
The “bums” are the Establishment. The Establishment is the interlocking set of players who have run the country — and in particular the Economy — for many years. It is the politicos, the corporate captains, the bankers, the wealthy, and the lobbyists who represent them. It is the profit-oriented media that depends upon corporate advertising and revenue-enhancing “audience share.” And it is the intellectual globalists who believe that American workers will have to “adjust” — meaning lose jobs, lose wages, re-train, move somewhere else, give up, retire, or expire.
In the Great Recession of 2008–2009 we all got to see the Establishment with its pants down. Indeed, it was naked. And what we saw was that the Government and Big Business are intertwined, and will do anything to keep The System in place, their privileges intact, and themselves out of jail.
We Democrats know that an unprincipled President Trump and a wealth-pandering Congress will continue to operate the “rigged” system. That is to say, that they will favor the rich, favor the corporations, favor the banks, and reward each other — as well as each-other’s friends. Say Hello to the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss.
But we also need to come to terms with the fact that the Clinton Machine was deeply embedded in the Establishment, similarly supportive of the elite, equally inclined to favor Business-as-Usual. Yes, the Democrats would bring more regulation to the big corporations, they would keep and hopefully improve the social “safety net” for the poor and the working poor. But they were not the party of Big Change. They were the bums. They got thrown out.
In the final days of the election, news commentators wondered how the Republican Party would put itself back together after a Clinton sweep. Now the question is, how will the Democratic Party put itself back together after the Clinton Machine has been discredited. Can the Democratic Party become the true Party of Change for 2018 and 2020? If so, then the Bernie Bros and the Millennials, the Latinos and the Blacks will have to restructure it. It would help significantly if we had a champion who understands the Con Game of the Republicans, and isn’t in the iron grip of the Establishment.
My wife and I have somebody in mind. Can’t divulge this yet, but here’s a hint: her initials are E.W.
Adam Corson-Finnerty is a writer and Social Justice Warrior who lives in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.