This year, everyone is calling for change. Not like 2008 when it was just the young Black senator from Illinois, in 2016 many presidential candidates in both parties are calling for different types of change. From pushing a political revolution to campaigning to make America great again, change is the underlying, bipartisan theme for this presidential election.
Change is both wanted and promised from nearly every candidate, and voters are uniquely positioned to put a brand new, non-incumbent president in office this year, further enhancing this theme of change.
Bernie Sanders, though a Democrat, cries out to his audiences for more than change, Sanders wants a political revolution. During this trip to New Hampshire I got the chance to work on his campaign, and hear more details from some of the campaign staff that reinforced the idea of “radical” political change. Naturally I compared Bernie, my current favorite, to Obama, our sitting President. Bernie calls for a political revolution, to hold Wall Street accountable, and an America that’s fair and inclusive of the “little guys,” the many marginalized persons in this country. I notice how much bolder Bernie’s call for change is than Obama’s, though they come from the same party. Undoubtedly Bernie doesn’t have to subject himself to play as big a game of respectability politics as Obama did; and it shows in his continued popularity despite his somewhat idealistic platform. In many ways, I learned how Senator Sanders wants to take Obama’s changes further, and in some ways, make new changes altogether. Bernie is bolder than Obama, asking for things that even most democrats find impossible. After canvassing for him in the middle of the winter in New Hampshire, I had a lot of time to think about his platform and his presidential goals. Personally, I’m intrigued by his platform, and can’t rationalize why we shouldn’t shoot for the stars.
On the other side of the call for change is the GOP, and most if not all of the candidates from the party are asking for change. Obviously this is much different than Bernie’s or Obama’s, but some might say it’s no less radical. Kasich calls for a constitutional amendment that would require Washington to keep a balanced budget. In a country with a deficit at almost 20 trillion dollars, this seems unfathomable. Not only has our country been in a deficit for most of the century, but strong partisan ties and irreconcilable differences have led us close and to actual government shutdowns.
Trump calls for change but to a different tune. Trump calls for actual, unconstitutional change when it comes to border security, and also calls for non-traditional American change when he asks for all Muslims to be banned until we tighten up our screening processes. His plans for the economy are vague at best. This became apparent at his rally in New Hampshire. Trump did a wonderful job of repeating his disgust for our national deficit. He discussed his disdain for our deal with Iran and our business in China. His plans? Never came up. Trump, like Sanders, calls for change on many key issues in this country. Unlike Sanders though, and unlike many members of his own party, he does not propose actual feasible solutions, if any solutions are proposed at all. His boisterous comments have attracted the millions, but his non-substantive platform in a presidential election is a new change in and of itself.
Change IS the theme across party lines this election. There’s no incumbent running, so the call for change is loud and working well for some candidates. As we continue through primary season, let’s follow to see what else changes, and how well these platforms will work for candidates in both parties.