No matter what part of the political spectrum you lie on, there is a scary candidate on the other side. Republicans are frightened of the potential of a “socialist” Sanders presidency (and that “socialist” label is being applied to Clinton as well, to a lesser extent). Democrats are wringing their hands at the momentum Trump appears to have.
While Sanders and Trump are as close to diametrically opposed as can be philosophically, they do share one common trait: they are populist, non-establishment candidates. Trump brings far more consternation among Republicans than Sanders does among Democrats, but neither are the preferred candidate of either party. Trump threatens to splinter the GOP, while the DNC has more subtle fears about Sanders, mainly the concern that he is too far left and will turn off centrist voters (which are the key to winning anything). Both of them are getting their funding from nontraditional sources (Sanders by a large volume of small donors and unions, Trump from his own coffers), and both are appealing on a populist platform.
This shouldn’t be surprising. The success of both candidates points to a rising tide of dissatisfaction with either political establishment. While it may be shocking to see this on both sides at this time, to me this was a situation that was inevitable.
This is what happens when the majority of the country (re: middle class and lower) have not been served properly by the government for decades.
This is what happens when both political establishments have sold out (pardon the cliched term) to corporate interests.
This is what happens when the decay of the majority is so apparent that people turn to relatively extreme candidates and their ideologies.
The most ardent Sanders or Trump supporters share that same thought process: the establishments have failed us, we must look elsewhere for help. The perceived failures, possible solutions, “radical” ideologies, and the candidates themselves are obviously different depending on which side you ask, but the resentment and dissatisfaction is of the same stripe: Washington has failed the American people, and enough is enough.
For the Democratic party, this is less of a concern for a variety of reasons. The current establishment candidate is a strong household name, and Sanders’ success hasn’t been enough to carry him to a clear victory (and most sober predictive measures don’t show him as a real threat anymore). While Sanders’ success is still going to provide a lasting effect even without a win (in that his ideals are now exposed and talked about in political analysis), the fact that he simply won’t win doesn’t threaten the Democratic party to a great extent. The largest consequence of his success is the fact that it’s very obvious that the younger generation of Democrats and liberals largely share his ideals, and this is something that needs to be accounted for as they get older.
The GOP, on the other hand, may be heading for a fracture of immense proportions. Trump’s success, now some of it in hindsight, is rather obvious to trace. He is tapping into a portion of conservatives that share his somewhat-to-obvious xenophobic proposals, and are also dissatisfied with recent establishment results. This is exacerbated by the fact that Trump appears to have appeared at the “perfect” time, where there is no clear opponent. There’s no one with the cache of Hillary Clinton on the Republican side to oppose Trump. The GOP’s initial establishment candidate, Jeb Bush, has already been ousted from contention, and the newly-crowned Marco Rubio has yet to win a state. Some would think lining up behind Ted Cruz would be the obvious play for the GOP, but they dislike him almost as much as they do Trump, so they chose to back Rubio.
Both sides have themselves to blame. Income inequality has been rising steadily for over four decades now; it was only a matter of time before people took notice. Corporations now exert their power over our government with impunity. While I wouldn’t call this a “revolution” by any standard (you’d need a lot more voter turnout to consider that term), it may be the beginning of one. It may be the first wave of a sustained storm that may reshape American politics as we know it.
Will the establishments adjust to this development? Will our government realign their priorities to serve the majority once more? Will all this culminate into a splintering of parties, resulting in a four-or-five-or-six-party system?
Well, who the hell knows. Right now we have a self-labeled socialist and a reality TV star in our primaries.