Ok. I’ve got to admit this. American politics is so much frustrating recently. Over the last six months, when a bunch of candidates decided to joint the campaign trail, what we often see is unabashed pompous speeches, be it from the left and the right. Donald Trump remains one of the top contenders from Republicans while Bernie Sanders seems to keep on boasting that he will drag the country to the far left direction, following the step the of the Nordic countries.
I was just amazed to see how successful these guys in capitalizing popularity by pushing through their extreme position. It seems that, the more the candidates exploit bluntly the ‘politically incorrect’ remarks, the more votes they get (“I’ll ban all Muslim travel to US,” “deport all rapist Mexicans out of state,” and so forth) At first, I thought their candidacy is a joke and their popularity will get down as the campaign trail proceeds. That’s also the case when reading how pundits and the media sneered them initially. Yet, as the Iowa Caucus draws to close, they both remain the front-runner in Republican and Democrat (you can see the latest report here).
Albeit I tend to think that their popularity is tentative (the support form the parties’ elites and donors cannot be ruled out), but seeing how the kind of extreme views can drive the nation are worrisome. They both reflect how Americans split along ideological lines. There must be something’s going on. One plausible answer might have to do with the rising inequality. Or how ‘unsuccessful’ immigrants create a sense of bitterness among the middle-class.
Will they actually be the nominees? I am not sure. But following closely the US election this year gives me some comparable insights with country like Indonesia. American politics is no exception from the demagogues. The voters who in favor of political extremism might be minority. But as Paul Krugman’s rightly points out, they are fairly big minority. These big-minority voters could be even more outrageous when fueled by outrage politicians.