As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron. —HL Mencken (1880–1956)
Democratic voters in New Hampshire battled snow and long lines to vote for a Democratic Socialist over an established dynastic Democrat; Republicans in the state voted for a real estate tycoon over established governors, the New York Times reports.
Senator Bernie Sanders, Democrat of Vermont, had received about 60 percent of the votes as of Wednesday morning, with 89 percent of the precincts in the state reporting, compared to former Secretary of State and former First Lady Hillary Clinton’s 38.4 percent on the Democratic side. He thus became the first Jewish candidate in history to win a presidential primary election.
- Mr Sanders has proposed making public colleges and universities tuition-free and substantially reducing student debt, in a plan that would cost about $75 billion a year. He would pay for this, if he can get Congress to go along, by imposing a tax on Wall Street speculators that would generate about $300 billion in revenue.
Donald J Trump, a real estate investor and reality TV star, set a bit of history of his own, since reality TV is a late 20th-century phenomenon. He had received about 35 percent of the Republican vote, with Governor John Kasich of Ohio receiving about 16 percent of the vote and finishing in second place among Republicans in New Hampshire.
Both New Hampshire winners speak loudly against programs that their respective parties have supported in the past, and the New Hampshire vote can be viewed as an anti-establishment message from the electorate, which may feel disenfranchised or ignored by their parties.
Voters are largely responding to a message for something different, for real change, not just talk of change. They want demonstrable differences, New Hampshire’s voters seemed to say, which is not something establishment candidates in either party are putting forth at this early stage in the primary. Ms Clinton, in offering incremental changes, rounded up two famous women who told younger women who supported Mr Sanders that they were in fact damned to hell.
But that yearning for hope and change could very well be what the 2016 presidential election is about: politicians have forgotten voters and We the People, paying attention instead only to rich people and corporations. President Obama put the “race” question front and center in the American dialog. Give it a few years for all these young black citizens to grow up and find their true voice. Could a Sanders candidacy turn America’s debate to the “class” question?
In any event, we’re angry about the plutocracy America has devolved into, and we’ll stop at nothing, even voting for an inexperienced trash-talker with “amazing” albeit as yet unspecified ideas, to stir things up. One of few specifics Mr Trump has pledged would be to “get rid of gun-free zones on schools.” That’s a sign of how angry we are.
The Republican and Democratic conventions are still a long ways off, and many primaries will take place between now and then. But New Hampshire made history by voting, in both parties, for non-traditional seekers of the highest office in the land. A storm is rising.