By Marc E. Fitch
Henry Kissinger wrote that the expert, "has his constituency – those who have a vested interest in commonly held opinions; elaborating and defining that consensus at a high level, after all, is what made him an expert." This may be why the political pundits are having such a difficult time with explaining The Donald's consistent popularity as well as Bernie Sanders' rise to near domination against Hilary Clinton. Both candidates have been defined as "unelectable" by pundits in their respective parties; however, the mere idea of an individual being unelectable says more about the insider's lack of imagination than anything about the candidate. Anybody can be elected, and it appears that the voting public thinks that anybody would be better than Hilary or Jeb. Experts are meant to provide analysis, which involves observing what is happening and dissecting it. Our current batch of experts have undertaken a different task, however, that of engineering and influencing the political situations so that it conforms with their expectations of reality – what they think they should be observing.
Donald Trump is not playing by the political pundits' rules. He's brash, boisterous, says whatever pops into his head, is an unabashed egotist and doesn't shy away from controversy. He doesn't listen to polls, and he doesn't listen to advisers – which may be part of the problem for the experts precisely because to become a political expert in the media it generally requires that you served as an adviser or in some political capacity. One works as a "strategist" or speechwriter or campaign manager and after the campaign or administration is over, quickly moves over to Fox or NBC to become part of the chattering class of political persuasion. It is then these individuals who act as the gate-keepers to the reigns of power in government guide the debate over what is acceptable or feasible and define the terms by which the public is to judge a candidate's worthiness or legitimacy. Unfortunately for them, Donald Trump doesn't care.
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What sets him and several of the other "outsider" candidates apart is that he has nothing to lose. He has more than enough of his own money, he holds no political office which he could possibly lose, and he's 69 years old – not some young whipper-snapper that could make four more runs at political office. This is virtually unprecedented in our modern culture of political correctness and victimhood. Trump storms in like a bull in a china shop, and the silent majority feels like they no longer have to be silent. His presence on the campaign trail has forced other candidates to become more outspoken. Hillary even announced that she was a "real person" and would be more spontaneous from now own. All this goes against what the political experts have learned and thus preached over the past three decades. They have become political experts precisely because they told candidates, "No, you can't do that!" and "This is what the American people want." Donald Trump doesn't care what the imaginary people of the pundits' fantasies want – which is apparently what the actual American people want.
Likewise, Bernie Sanders has little to lose. He's a politician coming to the end of his career at 74 years old. He's held his office for a long time but never really ascended to power in the ranks because he wasn't your typical Democrat – in fact, he's not a Democrat at all but a registered Independent. He's also an admitted socialist, which the talking heads said was a giant no-no. Sure, you can enact socialist policies but just tell everyone that you love capitalism and the Constitution and everything will be fine. This has been the Democratic playbook for half a century, so naturally the experts would continue to believe and preach the same idea. Thus, Sanders is "unelectable." His crowds of thousands and surging poll numbers disagree. Indeed, the experts are already looking to ditch Hilary and draft Uncle Joe Biden in an obvious act of desperation.
In trying to divert the American people away from two candidates that don't play by the rulebook but which appeal to the voters, experts are seeking to protect a particular political class – namely, the political class that pays them to be experts. Secondly, they are trying to deny Americans a real choice. In denying that choice, they are advocating for the current power structure and current protected political class. For too long, we have been lied to about who and what politicians are and what they believe because experts were trying to mold them to fit preconceived expectations. The politicians allowed themselves to be molded and present an illusory facade that quickly dissipated after election and left the general public disappointed and angry. A Trump/Sanders presidential race (or a Cruz/Sanders) would give Americans a real choice.
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Does America want to become a more socialist nation, or does it want to embrace capitalism as only a tried and true businessman could? That is a fundamental question that needs answering in this country, because for the longest time our government has been saying one thing but doing the opposite.
Marc E. Fitch is a graduate of the Western Connecticut State University Master of Fine Arts Program. He has been the recipient of the W.C.S.U. Barbara Winder Award and the Connecticut Review Leslie Leeds Poetry Award. He brand new book is "Schmexperts: How Ideology and Power Politics are Disguised as Science"