Political parties need to respond to their voters

The Democratic elite may support Clinton, one of my classmates told me in one of our many political back-and-forths, but Democrats as a whole support Bernie Sanders. “Although,” my classmate added, “I suppose you could say the same of [Donald] Trump,” that Trump is dismissed or even hated by the Republican elite but tremendously popular with Republicans as a whole.

Unless the Democrats and Republicans want a third party to claim the ever-increasing bloc of independent voters, they need to respond to their members’ apathy. Both need to offer political independents a place where they can call home.

If the Democrats are smart, they will learn from the Republicans’ mistake and nominate a popular candidate like Bernie Sanders rather than a politically “safe” candidate like Hillary Clinton. The Republicans face a similar dilemma, but more so. The Republicans would do well to finally abandon the idea of nominating another Dole, McCain or Romney and nominate a candidate who’s popular with someone more than just a political clique.

“The demise of Trump’s candidacy,” wrote Niall Stanage of The Hill, “has been predicted by centrist Republicans and the media alike virtually since the day it began. But there is no empirical evidence at all to suggest it is happening.” Eventually, the Republicans are going to have to acknowledge the reality that Trump is popular, very popular.

On the other side of the aisle, Sanders is a far more popular base of support than his big donor-backed challenger Hillary Clinton. In August, MSNBC reported that the average donation to Sanders’ campaign was less than $25 and has raised roughly a million dollars in small donations. Surprisingly, according to The New York Times, Trump’s average donation was about $50 and, according to Breitbart, has raised nearly four million.

Moreover, according to Gallup, Trump’s support among blue-collar workers is at the highest level of any candidate since Gallup started polling in the 1930s.

Whether Sanders and Trump manage to clear the biggest hurdle—the Democratic and Republican Party elites—is still to be seen. In any case, I’ll be putting my money on both parties realizing, firstly, just how unpopular they have become, and second, just how popular mavericks like Sanders and Trump are.

But, if the Democrats and Republicans dig in their heels and nominate yet another Clinton or yet another Bush, it will be a disaster for both of their houses. It will welcome the restrictionist and protectionist third party, which steps up to the plate. Even if such a party isn’t your cup of tea, a nation of more than three hundred million can’t afford to alienate a third of its voters.

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