One of the things that I’ve always attributed to my positive outlook on life is that I was entering into my teens around the end of Ronald Reagan’s Presidency. My formative years were a time of great hope, prosperity, and patriotism. Other than my faith, growing up in the Reagan years was probably the greatest contributor to my belief that America can be wonderful.
This is why I find this election cycle the most troubling I’ve ever seen. I’m used to the two major political parties hating each other. I’ve never seen so much internal hatred within the parties for the party itself. Democrats either hate Bernie Sanders for not stepping out of the way of their anointed one or they hate the party for anointing her in the first place. Republicans are quickly starting to hate “the Establishment” regardless of which anti-Establishment candidate they support. Donald Trump’s supporters hate Ted Cruz supporters. Ted Cruz supporters hate Donald Trump supporters. John Kasich supporters hate both of them for acknowledging that he has no chance.
#NeverTrump. #NeverCruz. #OhHillNo. #GoAwayBernie. #DropOutKasich. Unlike any other election year, this one is dragging out and causing so much strife that leaders on both sides are wondering how they’re going to pull everyone together before the general election. It’s important because the party that can mend the wounds will be the party that is most likely to win the Presidency.
It’s deeper than that, though. Congress is up for grabs. The dynamics that surround the Presidential candidates is certain to affect the tight House and Senate races, of which there are many. If Trump runs third-party, the Senate could be lost. If he runs as a Republican, the Senate will almost certainly be lost and the large majority in the House could be wiped out in one election for the Republicans. The Democrats have a similar problem, though not as focused on one candidate or the other. Both candidates pose down ticket problems in certain areas of the country.
I remember past elections when it was safe to debate a nomination opponent’s supporter over a beer and end the conversation with the reminder that we’re on the same team in November. That doesn’t seem to be the case this year. The feelings are much deeper. Two reasons for this stand out. First, we have four of the most polarizing candidates in recent history. Second, the rise of social media replicating and magnifying the digital grassroots like never before is giving voice to people outside of the media.
It’s quickly becoming the ugliest nominating cycle in decades, perhaps ever.
On both sides, millions of voters are going to be outraged after the conventions. There will be political uprisings of a nature that we haven’t seen since the civil rights era. Whichever party comes together the most will be the winner in November.