The rise of the political outsiders

 

It is generally assumed and speculated that politicians say one thing and often do another. This contradictory pattern has become synonymous with politicians, particularly when running for office. Usually, they make promises they do not keep and for the most part, voters have come to expect that. It's reminiscent of the phrase: "That's just what politicians do; they'll say anything to get elected."

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But as the nation focuses on the 2016 election cycle, the political and economic establishments' choice of two dynastic candidates, Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonTrump: 'I’m just flabbergasted’ by Clinton-Lynch meet AFL-CIO head: Trump’s ‘a fraud’ Sanders skirts Biden's claim that he'll endorse Clinton MORE and Jeb Bush, continue not to sway a public that is not a part of its political coffers. The presumptiveness of their campaigns has led to declining numbers.

Clinton is the wife of one of the canniest politicians of our time. And Jeb is the political capricious son and brother of two former presidents. Both are establishment choices. Despite those facts, neither candidate is performing as well as many originally thought.

Democrats are becoming frustrated with Clinton's email scandal and Republicans are plotting to take down Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump: 'I’m just flabbergasted’ by Clinton-Lynch meet Trump's new digital strategist quickly leaves campaign GOP megadonor compares Trump to Biblical figures MORE.

Both party establishments appear oblivious to the populism born out of frustration. Populism, as defined by Peter Wiles, is "based on the premise that virtue resides in the simple people, who are the overwhelming majority." Neither Bush nor Clinton seem to understand these complex structures, whereas Trump, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders skirts Biden's claim that he'll endorse Clinton The Trail 2016: Meet and greet and grief Biden spills beans: Sanders will endorse Clinton MORE (I-Vt.) and Ben Carson have tapped into this.

This latter group has used discursive and non-discursive messages, combining the typical distinctions made between elements such as ideas, beliefs and attitudes. Clinton and Bush appear to have failed to comply with the will of their voting population.

For example, Sanders and Trump both appear to speak to the values and beliefs of liberal and conservative voters. They both speak to issues involving income and wealth inequality, with Sanders arguing to increase the minimum wage and Trump arguing for a tougher stance on immigration.

The descriptions provided above are only representative of an approach in which these outsiders move from the periphery to the center of the dominant political structure. It is only one approach in which these outside candidates are appealing to the raw emotions and dissatisfaction voters have with typical politicians. They are triggering an emotional response from voters, in part, by speaking to social problems and issues that have mostly been ignored by an elite political class.

These nontraditional candidates represent the real friction between the American people and the political class. The division between the traditional structures of the political establishment versus the nontraditional structure of these assumed outsider candidates has taken the political class by surprise.

Part of electoral politics is about appealing to tradition and establishment. However, both party establishments seem to ignore the current reality, that voters are both tired of broken promises and displeased with their respective parties.

For liberals who support or consider Sanders, they are tired of being told they will get a minimum wage increase and it never ever happening. For conservatives who support or consider Trump or Carson, they are tired of being told they will get a tougher stance on immigration and the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) for something better and it not ever happening.

The populism that we see today is a result of both parties ignoring their traditional constituents. Whether important matters such as trade, tax policy, minimum wage, corporate regulation, abortion, school prayer or super-Pacs, the voter loses nearly every time.

Voters are frankly exhausted of losing to those with more influence and clout. And the rise of the outsiders is a result of that frustration. Ultimately, both parties may very well transition to the presumptive Democratic and Republican candidates for president. The rise of the outsiders should serve as a lesson to both parties of what can happen when they ignore their voters.

But if voters are tired, then we should see a change in whom each party ultimately nominates to be their candidate. It leads to the question: How much more will people continue to endure or have we grown to accept it? Will establishmentism or populism win? We may very well be saluting President Trump or Sanders.

This piece has been slightly revised.

Singleton is a Republican political consultant. He's worked on the presidential campaigns of Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney. Follow him on Twitter @Shermichael_.

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