I shouldn’t have to say this, but welcome to 2016. We’re in the twenty-first century. We were promised hover-boards and jetpacks and underwater metropolises. But instead we have blankets with sleeves and microwaveable pizza.
Now, don’t get me wrong. We started off 2016 with a miracle in scientific advancement with the addition of four new elements to the Periodic Table.
But we also started 2016 with Saudi Arabia executing 47 people, a domestic terrorist attack in Oregon, the entire population freaking out over the lottery, and people blindly following a terrible rapper that believes the Earth is somehow flat. Ignorance is seeping deep into our society. Logic and rationale is flying out the window, along with subconscious thinking.
But, there’s one thing that I can think of that has changed in this new era. You don’t have to read the pages of writers such as George Orwell to witness a tale of political disaster. All one must do is read their daily newspapers or follow politics on one of the countless social media outlets that are now offered. The game of manipulation has been happening for so long, and the basic idealism we share as a society is morphing quickly. We have entered a new age of politics through the steady evolving consciousness of the average voter.
If we rewind to the late nineties, we see a different method in political approach. The establishment-esque template for politicians were still blatantly considered normal. The easily to spot puppets, cheesy figures with nice yet fake smiles and perfect haircuts. The million dollar suits with the perfectly groomed eyebrows and chiseled features. Ever since the creation of television and the failure Nixon felt at the 1960 debate, politicians have been in a race to keep up with their images.
Kennedy’s charismatic charm and political gain seemed to have left an impact on a political environment which was learning that people care about appearance more than problems. Ronald Reagan was forced to dye his hair in an attempt to appear younger and more fit for the job of President. Fast forward to today! Marco Rubio’s boots and haircut seem to keep the college age girls that support him more than happy to campaign for a robot.
To this day we witness this political attempt to smile and wave. To remain ignorant and focus on perfect smiles and fashion statements. Hillary Clinton plays along with millennials, asking them to “talk about how their student debt makes them feel in three emojis or less!”. Why would she even ask this? Why not just ask college graduates to express their emotions through words? After all, these men and women have degrees! Why treat them like technology-obsessed children?
It’s because this establishment base of politics — on both the left and the right — aren’t actually connecting with problems as well as we’d hope. They’re focusing on their own individual and independent images. How can they appear charismatic to the endorsements and voting population? How can they get on the front page today? In a society that cares more about image instead of substance, why would politicians that have their pockets full of money care to answer difficult questions?
The same goes for Jeb! Bush. The supposed “smarter” Bush brother is too busy pandering to his minuscule voting base, to the point where he’s blatantly ignorant towards what the majority of the population is thinking and desiring. His ignorant gun post titled “America.” rippled waves across the American people. We’re past substance with the Republican Party, just as we’re past substance with the moderate/establishment Democratic Party. Image matters more, and it’s sad that these candidates can’t even really keep their image intact.
So, if this establishment tradition of image and lackluster is still prominent in our society, how are we entering a new age of politics? Well, take a look at each side. Whether you like them or not, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are raging through the polls and gaining increasingly popular support. People are tired of the “politically correct” crowd of establishment do-nothings that try to connect to voters through looks and emotions rather than content and imagery for the future.
This new generation doesn’t want promises, they want proof. They don’t want fake smiles, they want the average grin. They don’t want million-dollar suits that make shoulders look wider, they want someone who looks as if they’re doing their job (and not the bankers!).
Bernie Sanders is grabbing the attention of people who don’t like the establishment in control of everything. He’s grabbing the people that truly want change, unlike what Obama gave in 2008 and 2012. They want someone who won’t abandon a grassroots movement. He’s grabbing onto the true wing of populism that existed during Theodore Roosevelt’s Presidency over one hundred years ago. They want someone who’s speaking his mind, who’s speaking the truth.
Donald Trump is grabbing populism as well, but in a different form. He’s grabbing what a friend of mine has called white angst populism. These people — mostly white — who believe the South should have won the Civil War, that reverse racism is dominant in our society, etc. He’s rallying up the destructed corners of the Tea Party lobbyists and the GOP. His supporters want someone who will speak his mind, no matter how ignorant and obsessive with Mexicans and Muslims it may be, They want to push racist beliefs onto everyone else. They want someone who they perceive as an “alpha male”, an entertainer who hasn’t been in the limelight as a career politician. The Hypocrisy of the GOP has collapsed onto itself with the impact of Donald Trump’s reign across the fractured Republican Party.
Whether you believe in a Sanders policy or a Trump policy (or maybe you’re still stuck with an establishment crowd, no judgement there), you have to admit that the reason these two politicians are surging through the ranks is because they’re different. Neither one cares about their appearance — as evident through their lackluster hairstyles and the lack of makeup/skin tones. Image isn’t a role here, in 2016. Image is being heard through ideas, not fashion sense. The pantsuit aficionados and the million dollar boots aren’t enough for votes anymore.
We’re entering a new system. One that is entering a ring that has been lopsided from years of radical expansion and the growth of hatred on one side. Modern Democrats stand on many issues now where Republicans in the 1970’s did. The Republicans have splintered off into five main groups (the Five Ring Republican Circus, if you will) and have shot off so far right that they can’t function as a proper political party.
Welcome to this new age of politics: where the million dollar smile won’t qualify you to be President of the United States anymore. Or, in the very least, not to the extent that it used to.