A cult of personality may or may not be enough for Mr. Sanders and Mr. Trump to win their parties’ nomination, but it’s certainly assisted them in getting the mainstream’s attention.
On paper, the two presidential candidates that a year ago would’ve seemed like safe bets were Mr. Jeb Bush, the former Governor of Florida whose father and older brother served as President, and Mrs. Hillary Clinton, a former First Lady, Secretary of State and U.S. Senator. Both Mr. Bush and Mrs. Clinton before the 2016 presidential race began had national profiles, though the former attorney was more well-known due to, among several things, her actually being a visible figure in the White House in more than one Administration. The two relatives of former Presidents are traditional and experienced candidates with predictable messages and promises, and that’s exactly what Americans appear to be rejecting as they flock to Mr. Donald Trump and Mr. Bernie Sanders, two nontraditional candidates who have made elaborate promises to voters and whose campaign messages, rather than catchphrases, are more so calls for a political revolution.
Mr. Trump, a Republican, and Mr. Sanders, a Democrat, yesterday were decisive winners in the New Hampshire primary, though neither man was taken seriously by the press when they announced their candidacy, instead the Fourth Estate widely portrayed the two as fringe candidates whose alternative world-view would only capture them the proverbial fifteen minutes of fame. The media, to a degree, certainly aimed to frame the race between the chosen ones, but in this instance, literally the loudest voices won the battle, though not the war. The battle was simply to be recognized as legitimate contenders in the presidential campaign – Mr. Sanders, who in Iowa finished extremely close to Mrs. Clinton and who in New Hampshire defeated her with a double digit lead, early on complained often about the media ignoring him; and Mr. Trump, who as a candidate has garnered significant earned media, has consistently stated that the press doesn’t treat him fairly – whereas the war is, of course, being elected President of the United States.
The electability of both candidates has been made a subject by politicians, pundits and media-makers, but so, too, has their audacious platform, which I’d argue has attracted, equally, great scrutiny and celebration. The later is a result of the fact that both Mr. Sanders and Mr. Trump don’t represent a campaign, as do their competitors, instead they embody an authentic, participatory movement. The two aforementioned politicos are delivering a message of action that fully includes voters. For Mr. Trump, it’s making America great again, and for Mr. Sanders, it’s taking the country back from the billionaires and banks that control elections and government leaders.
Both winners from yesterday’s contest have succeeded thus far because, in addition to being considered anti-establishment candidates, they speak un-apologetically to people who are themselves unapologetic in their frustrations with the current political system. They’ve tapped into an anger that’s real and long-standing, and have lifted up complaints that require mitigation, not stifling. A cult of personality may or may not be enough for Mr. Sanders and Mr. Trump to win their parties’ nomination, but it’s certainly assisted them in getting the mainstream’s attention.
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