The death rattle of the American dream. That’s what we’re witnessing.
Do you know anyone who thinks their vote matters? Anyone who believes Washington hears their voice? Do you know one person whom you respect who believes the nation is headed in the right direction? Who believes the next generation will be better off than this one? Than the generation before?
Of course, you don’t.
The contraction of a democracy brings with it the kind of men who come before an end, the John the Baptists and the AntiChrists, the ones that warn you of your demise and offer the promise of resurrection. (Which of those fates you experience, of course, depends on you. It always depends on you.)
When the voices first rose in late 2008, what would become the Tea Party wasn’t conservative. It wasn’t liberal. It was men and women from across the spectrum enraged at Washington for giving our money (yours, mine) to Wall Street bankers — and then hanging us out to dry. It was grassroots. It wanted justice. It demanded that our government act on our behalf. Then it was coopted by the far right.
Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are surging because we the people want to be heard. No more platitudes. No more hedging. We want candidates standing where we stand. And no matter which side you’re on, one of these two men echo back your cries: Put us at the front of the line — before Wall Street, before non-Americans, before those who are buying our politicians and robbing us of our voice.
Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are our clarion call to Washington that we’re fed up with its narcissism, a message to the powers that be that the people who rose up seven years ago with the Tea Party, the real Tea Party that breathed fire before the Kochs and Fox News harnessed it, are alive and well and still raging at the injustice that’s been leveled at our feet.
But we are not satiated by our anger.
We want good paying jobs. We want to own our own homes again. We want to know what it’s like to have a savings account and what forty-hour work weeks and two week vacations feel like. We want to see our kids walk across the stage after their college education and know they aren’t shackled to student debt but about to embark on a fantastic new adventure. And we want to know our elderly parents won’t die in poverty.
To put it simply: We want our country back.
And through our votes for these two disparate men we are asserting that we expect those whom we’ve elected to turn from the bribery they’re engaging in to the service of three hundred twenty million American futures — and not merely their own.
We are living in a Mr. Smith Goes to Washington moment. We, right and left, have created that moment. And if Washington listens, the Republican and Democratic parties and America itself might just be revived. But if Washington does not listen…