WASHINGTON –Donald Trump told Kevin Cirilli and Bob Cusack with The Hill last week that he was considering a third-party run for the 2016 presidential race. More specifically, Trump said this would be in the event that he is not treated fairly by the Republican National Committee during the primaries. Trump proclaimed: “I want to do what’s right for the country — not what’s good for special interest groups that contribute, not what’s good for the lobbyists and the donors.”
Meanwhile, Trump is reportedly “surging” in polls in New Hampshire and Iowa. But the question for many is why, if indeed Trump is doing so well, he feels he must resort to threats of defection against the RNC, or why there is friction with the RNC in the first place, why Trump feels he must chastise his “establishment” Republican contenders, etc. The answer may be seen in looking at the Democrats and their own version of the hyperbolic and eccentric Trump: Bernie Sanders.
Media figures are casting both Sanders and Trump as “anti-establishment” candidates. For example, the shows notes for an episode of Larry King’s Politicking simply state: “With Bernie Sanders drawing huge crowds & Donald Trump stealing headlines from his GOP rivals, will 2016 be the year of the anti-establishment candidate? Larry takes a look.” Trump was also cited as saying, “I’m not surrounded by all sorts of pollsters and PR people…I speak the truth. Our country is in big trouble, and I know how to turn it around.”
While pundits and personalities debate, laud or condemn each new turn of phrase from Trump or Sanders, what should be held in agreement by everyone is the simple fact that Trump or Sanders are both trending as the apparent leaders of the Republican and Democratic 2016 efforts.
Social media activity, speculation and interest are garnered disproportionately by these two potentials, even if a poll numbers wax or wane. What’s more, they are not alone. Behind every Sanders is an Elizabeth Warren, and behind every Trump is a Rand Paul. Party politics is beginning to look as if running “against the party,” is the fast track to recognition; not seeking the party leaderships’ approval translates into getting that party more potential voters from the electorate.
It is a very strange trend, where a group of seemingly “independent” or “maverick” candidates, are choosing to demonstrate how different they are from the status-quo by running with the backing of the two established political parties. It begs the question as to why independent campaigns have not been setup to begin with, especially when it comes to figures like Trump, who have the capital and resources to run such a campaign.
If all of the establishment candidates cast themselves as “anti establishment,” and the two entrenched parties play host to them, then would that make actual, independent candidates “establishment candidates” by default? As ludicrous as that may sound, it leaves one asking what exactly is the litmus test for when a candidate or a party can be defined as representing view points opposed to the established political order.
If it is simply a matter of running with the support of one of the two entrenched parties, and then getting into spats with party leadership or one of the other candidates, then the terms “establishment” and “anti-establishment” cease to have any meaning altogether.
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