Partisanship Prevails

I remember back in August when I first started having political conversations about the presidential election. Trump was just starting to make waves and I was still very much of the opinion that, as in 2012, his candidacy would soon fold and make way for the likes of a more traditional candidate like Jeb(!) Bush. But here we are in early March; Bush has officially dropped out of the race and Trump looks to have all but secured his nomination as the republican presidential candidate, given that he’s performed very well at both caucuses and primaries up to this point (most recently, he won the Nevada caucus with 46.4 percent of the vote). This is terrifying to me. Bush dropping out means that American politics are shifting divisively.

When I first started having political conversations, everyone assumed that the election would either go to Clinton or Bush. This was familiar, Clinton v. Bush even sounds like an election from the late eighties, early nineties. The reality is everything but familiar. The reality is a nation divided enough that it has popularized, to coin a phrase, “the politics of the extreme.”

On the republican side, Trump has come storming onto the political scene and captured the heart of his party by maintaining hardline, nationalistic ideals. Perhaps more surprising has been the rise of Bernie Sanders on the Democratic side. His progressive ideals have come to embrace the widely held belief that the nation’s wealthiest 1 percent are consuming a disproportionate amount of the nation’s wealth and controlling a disproportionate amount of power. Neither one of these candidates was seriously considered as a potential nominee in August, yet here we are.

If Sanders and Trump wind up winning their respective nominations, it will be the first time that seeing a pair of white men run for president is surprising. Politics are changing and the trend seems to be away from the mainstream. Folks are tired of seeing “politicians” like Clinton and Bush. The popularity of fringe — some might even call them “wild card” — candidates is reflective of a political climate that has a dangerous lack of credibility. Bush’s decision to drop out of the race is a sign that political change is on the horizon — I just hope it’s change for the better.

—Will McQuilkin, A&E Editor