Donald J. Trump and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont harnessed working-class fury on Tuesday to surge to commanding victories in a New Hampshire primary that drew a huge turnout across the state. . . . The two men won significant support from voters who felt betrayed by their parties and were dissatisfied or angry with the federal government. . . .I find this discouraging. Not because Trump won, or because Sanders won, but because both won. We seem to heading farther down the path of angry partisan gridlock that has dominated our politics for the past six years. Nobody is interested in compromise, or working together. Sanders' acceptance speech was all about sending a message:
Mr. Trump also tapped into a deep well of anxiety among Republicans and independents in New Hampshire, according to exit polling data, and he ran strongest among voters who were worried about illegal immigrants, incipient economic turmoil and the threat of a terrorist attack in the United States.
Together we have sent a message that will echo from Wall Street to Washington, from Maine to California. And that is that the government of our great country belongs to all of the people, and not just a handful of wealthy campaign contributors and their ‘super PACs’.Which conveniently ignores the message from the Republican side. Trump is also making a big deal out of his independence from wealthy campaign contributors, but his policies hardly jibe well with Sanders'. There simply is no evidence that if the wealthy donors pulled out of politics Americans would suddenly all agree.
Tea Party Republicans and Sanders Democrats both believe that they can smash the establishment and govern for the people. But the sad truth is that the people are bitterly divided against themselves. The most likely result of this campaign is more gridlock and more frustration. A majority of energized voters in both parties is angry with the status quo and wants big changes, but since they mostly want opposite changes, and since the country is so evenly divided that we consider it a landslide for one presidential candidate to get even 54 percent of the vote, neither side can get what it wants.
Are there any areas where Trump supporters and Sanders supporters could be persuaded to work together? Maybe shoring up Social Security and a turn against world trade, and just possibly in fighting fewer foreign wars. But I don't get that anybody is working on this right now, because shouting about restoring power to the people from the nefarious forces that have stolen it is too much fun. Eventually, though, somebody has to govern the country, and when I look in the bottom of my tea cup the leaves just form a big ugly mess.