Today is Super Tuesday here in the good ‘ole US of A. That means a good number of states vote in primaries to pick a person to run for president in November. I’ve been following presidential politics since 2000 and this one really stands out as odd. I know five primary seasons is a fairly small sample size but it’s what we have to work with. I couldn’t vote before 2000 so didn’t pay any attention.
For the most part, the election process has really felt two dimensional. Republicans vs Democrats. The primaries mattered only in the sense of who would have the best chance of beating the other side. You might like one candidate more than another but really they weren’t all that different.
I grew up in a Republican house hold so I voted in the Republican primary in 2000. I liked some of the things I learned about McCain, particularly his military record so I voted for him. I was undoubtedly swayed by my US Government teacher who was a McCain supporter and the fact that I wanted to join the Navy.
By 2004, I had actually started thinking about what I believe and witnessed the first four years of Bush and decided I wasn’t actually a Republican. So I voted for Kerry. I have no idea who, or even if, I voted in the primary. I didn’t really have any particular feelings for or against Kerry aside from “he’s not Bush.”.
Come 2008 and I’m paying close attention to the primary. I like Obama but don’t really have a strong dislike for Clinton. They both feel fairly similar but Obama has a message of hope which I appreciate. I like the idea of being positive about the future.
2012 rolls around, the wheels are starting to show signs of coming off. Obama’s a sitting president so he has the nomination pretty much locked down. The Republicans are struggling with this Tea Party business. But things aren’t really much different than they’ve been before.
But now we’re in 2016. The primaries on both side are anything but business as usual. There is no clear dominate figure on either side. And all of the major candidates are drastically different from each other. They each seem to represent something different about America. And those somethings are really quite at odds with each other.
The Christian Theocracy
There is a pretty vocal contingent in America that is much in favor of the Christian religion. They feel very strongly about a few issues. To them, America is a Christian nation and always has been. Freedom of Religion means they are free to be the only religion here.
Ted Cruz represents this segment of the American psyche. He’s the preacher, the uncompromising defender of the Christian nation. His way is backed by God and you just can’t argue with that.
The Golden Sharpie
There is another segment of the America that is all about the bling. They are loyal to a brand and that brand is America. They don’t care that there are versions of the product out there that get better ratings, last longer and are more affordable. They heard the fancy jingle enough times on TV and therefore their brand must be superior.
This segment is highlighted by Donald Trump, whose entire existence in the cultural conscious is as a brand. They don’t really know what Donald Trump stands for and neither does he. They just know he’s better than every other candidate because Donald Trump says so.
To borrow the phrase from John Oliver, “He’s like a golden sharpie; something that looks rich but is really just a cheap tool.”
America is doing fine. The rich have a lot of privilege but that’s okay because you too could become rich some day. If you work hard. So let’s make sure and make things easy on businesses because if we don’t, you’ll get fired and never be able to work 80 hrs a week to achieve the wealth that is your right as a hard working American.
This is the business as usual segment of the psyche. America has power and influence. We therefore must continue doing what we’ve been doing because it’s good for business. We’ll pay lipservice to whatever is currently trending on Twitter but only until the next news cycle.
Hilary Clinton and Marco Rubio represent this branch. And it’s telling that they are from different parties. Because for this element, it doesn’t matter which party is in control.
America can do better. America should do better. We’re rich enough, deep down we’re compassionate enough, there are lots of examples from around the world of better ways to do things. So why the fuck isn’t America doing better?
This is the segment of American that believes in a world that may or may not align with reality. They are sick and tired of no one even trying. They are tired of business as usual and they don’t believe in a mystical heyday when things used to be awesome. The world is not puppy dogs and rainbows but it’s not made up of terrorists and rapists either. But they would really like those rainbows.
Bernie Sanders represents this group. It’s idealistic but also cynical. It’s not really religious, it doesn’t buy into cheap slogans anymore (unless it’s an Apple product) and it doesn’t want to spend the rest of their potentially very long lives paying off student loan debt just to retire at 80 with no savings or healthcare. But it’s probably not going to show up to vote today because what would be the point?
Which of these pieces of America will make it to November? All of them. These four groups aren’t mutually exclusive to each other. They are four sides to the American consciousness. Most American’s slip between them at different points. You could look at them like the emotions in the girls head from Inside Out. Right now, they have forgotten to how to work with each other and are really fighting for the control panel. One winning doesn’t make the others go away.
My vote is going to Bernie Sanders. Because I want puppy dogs and rainbows and I don’t want to have to pray for them, buy an overpriced knock off rainbow that breaks the next day or work two jobs just to afford half the color spectrum.