This year, the American two-party system has given the American people two of the lamest, least-likable presidential candidates in living memory. On the Right, we have a fascist, who’s nickname is “The Donald” – a name befitting a mafioso rather than a presidential contender. On the Left (actually the Middle Right) we have Hillary – a known political operator who, along with her husband, has jigged the system for decades. Sadly, Hillary is a 2 for 1 offer. If we elect her, we get Bill too.
Both the Dems and the GOP have a serious problem. Namely, each party has to convince a majority of the American people that their respective candidate is worthy of the presidency. There is no doubt that the GOP faces the greater challenge. I am not sure how the party of Lincoln can ever sell Trump as presidential. There has never been a presidential candidate in U.S. history with such a prominent comb-over. As for Clinton, she commands the facts, but her facts are all-too-often pulled out of thin air. There is nothing the Dems can do to convince the electorate that Hillary is honest; and the Democratic Party elite are correct in not even trying to persuade us on that point.
So how are the two parties going to capture the votes of their own disenchanted members and those of disengaged independents? They’re going to work hard in the next four months to rebrand their candidates. Rebranding is as American as apple pie, hotdogs, and guns. Rebranding is simple; it entails intense, repetitive advertising, along with catchy soundbites, emotional imagery, cliche’ slogans, and outright lies. Remember Ronald Reagan’s 1984 “Morning in America” television ad – it rebranded Reagan as America’s savior. That commercial, in which Reagan appeared atop a white horse, almost had me in tears when I saw it. It persuaded a nineteen-year old lower middle class kid from the westside of Sioux City, Iowa, to vote for a rich, privileged old white guy who confused his movie roles with his real life.
We all know that Hillary represents the status quo. She’s Wall Street’s choice for president. Nevertheless, in the weeks and months ahead she is going to be rebranded as a change agent. Just the other day, she said she supported a Public Option for those seeking low-cost health insurance. The Donald is getting into the rebranding act as well. He is now talking about compassionate conservatism. In other words, he now apparently cares about somebody other than himself.
So don’t believe either campaign. Hillary is no progressive; she’s a neoliberal beholden to corporate interests. And The Donald; he’s still a blatant liar, racist, bigot, and misogynist. If the established parties have got you down, don’t fret, look for a third-party candidate, or better yet, work to establish a viable Progressive Party, one that seeks to prioritize the needs of the environment, the poor, the working class, the shrinking middle class, minorities, the unemployed, the mentally ill, women, students, the LGBT community, immigrants, and the elderly. I think the biggest lesson of the 2016 presidential contest is this: the two established parties no longer represent the vast majority of the American people. And for that reason it’s time for a Progressive Party.