Four years ago, the message “Change” was part of President Barack Obama's campaign. Bumper stickers, social media and t-shirts read “Change We Need” and “Change We Can Believe In.” In this election cycle, Republican nominee, Donald Trump touts “Make American Great Again,” while Sanders reminds his voters that there is “A Future to Believe In.”
Sanders is still hanging on as the Democratic National Convention draws near. Viewed as an outsider in the political game, the Senator from Vermont has been critical about PAC and corporate money in politics and government. Sanders is pro-environment, anti-war, anti-gun, pro-education and pro-healthcare. He is, by all accounts, anti-establishment. Despite the Democratic National Committee (DNC) consistently (and heavily) hinting he should leave the race to unite the party, Sanders is gaining traction.
Trump, while across the political aisle, has also stirred up marginalized voters. Much to the shock of Republican leaders, Trump rose up and swept through elections until opponent after opponent dropped out of the race. His voters want to go back to a time where politics, the government and life was more simple. Trump promises them job security, taxing the rich, lowering taxes on the low and middle class and a more affordable health care program. Both candidates and their voters are not only connected in their request for sweeping reform, but in their mission to save the shrinking middle class.
Trump and Sanders voters are more than a small majority. They are disenfranchised passionate Americans who are yearning for something more, something different. Trump and Sanders supporters are no longer asking for change, they are demanding it. Whether the candidates are feeding the beasts at their disposal without plans to stick to what they are preaching, voters are turning away from the establishment. Much like the Wizard of Oz, the curtain has been drawn back and this group of voters is seeing the manipulation of our elected officials.
Trumps voters are considered to be poor white uneducated males who value opinion over rational thinking. Sanders voters are considered young socialists. These points of view are how the establishment views them. What the establishment has forgotten is U.S. history.
In 1773, a rather small group of American colonists called the Sons of Liberty destroyed a shipment of tea from the East India Company. We know this political protest as the Boston Tea Party which inevitably led to the American Revolution. This small group's initial protest, that skyrocketed into a war, was to fight taxation by the British and protect the rights of colonists. It was a call for freedom. It was a call to protect those hard workers who would not be subject to the rule of the wealthy any longer. Sound familiar?
In a time where yellow journalism runs rampant and approximately 90% of mainstream media is owned by six corporations, it is no wonder why the news rarely reports on protests and election issues. While Occupy Wall Street garnered attention in 2011, potential election fraud, Democracy Awakening protests in Washington, D.C. and media protests outside of their own building due to partisan reporting, were pretty much ignored.
The media are not the only ones trying to keep the status quo to appease advertisers. The political establishment is also digging in their heels to protect their seats, reputations and funding. Senator Barbara Boxer said on CNN, “I feared for my safety.” At the controversial Democratic convention in Nevada, tensions brewed as Sanders voters felt like they were being marginalized due to the complexity of the state's primary process. After a misunderstanding about shutting down the process prematurely, cell phone numbers were leaked; chairs were tossed. Senator Dianne Feinstein addressed her own concerns over a repeat of the 1968 Democratic National Convention where anti-Vietnam protesters viewed candidate Hubert Humphrey as a continued by-product of President Johnson's war legacy.
Trump himself has repeated that the primary election process is rigged and corrupt. The Republican National Committee had tried their best to navigate their way around Trump by providing extra coaching with young Senator Marco Rubio and tossing support behind Ohio Governor, John Kasich. Even towards the end of March, insiders were starting to rally around foe, Senator Ted Cruz, while toying with the idea of running an independent candidate in the general election to pick off Trump votes.
As the DNC ramps up their talk about uniting the party before the convention, burning the fire of fear in Democrats that Trump might win, and how Sanders supporters are rabid dogs ready to attack, the writing is on the wall about how both political organizations just want their inside man to lead. They are looking for another well-oiled cog for their machine.
We are a country at unrest. Republican outsiders don't want to be shut in the closet anymore. Young liberals don't want the future their grandparents created for them. This is more than a presidential election. It's been over a decade in the making. The common message from both groups is this – they do not want the elite making decisions for the common man anymore. And these voters, they refuse to be fooled anymore. Manipulated by propaganda, Trump and Sanders supporters are tired of the elite controlling their lives, much like the British monarchy centuries ago.
While Trump and Sanders voters stand on the opposite end of gun control, abortion and equality, they do share equal frustration in representation. Both sides have a common passion. Both sides are screaming for change. This uprising goes deeper into the subconscious than party leaders, elected officials and CEO's allow themselves to see. To them, these calls for two anti-establishment candidates are not only a political mistake by both parties, but the result of whining children who just need to be soothed with another small concession. They are not ready to see the large, neon handwriting on the wall. You are no longer welcome. You are no longer a representation of my country, my beliefs, my needs. It is time to move this country forward and you can only keep it the same.
Our current leaders are not ready to release their ego. They are struggling with passing on the torch to another generation. They believe their actions are the correct ones. They are lady liberty, holding that eternal flame. They believe their decisions are for the many.
Sanders and Trump supporters know this, though - life is not static. Weather, trees, animals, technology, our emotions, are all ever-changing. There is not much that we can point to around us that is the same day in and day out. They don't just call for free college and gun rights. They don't just call for a wall along Mexico and energy solutions. They are chanting in unison to allow our country to evolve. They are uniting the common man. They are saying, we no longer want to live in an era where the wealthy take all. If the establishment, the CEO's, corporations, the 1%, our elected officials and lobbyists continue to suppress the shrinking middle class, they will only fan a flame that will become much harder to tame. Voters are saying it is the beginning for you and me. It is a revolution.
Photo credit: By David Shankbone - Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16835415