Truth be told, Bernie and the Donald are strange icons to be channeling the outrage of American voters who believe that the system is rigged (which includes me, by the way). And, if the media is to be believed, there are many “independent” voters who are choosing between Bernie and the Donald, even though these two have very little in common.
Bernie is like the uncle everybody wishes they had. This septuagenarian Jewish grandfather is both likable and cantankerous. He’s the guy about whom one would say at a Thanksgiving dinner, “Ah, that’s Uncle Bernie. He’s been a lone voice in the wilderness for years. He’s right on the issues and he’s fought the good fight, but who actually listens to him?”
Loads of Millennials, including independent young women like Emily Ratajkowki, it turns out.
Then there is the Donald. He’s a very, very odd person to be the tuning fork for loads of disaffected voters who agree with Bernie and me that the system is “rigged.” I mean, consider the Donald:
- The poster boy for narcissistic personality disorder, the Donald was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. His father gave him a “small” loan of a million dollars to start his real estate career.
- Even so, the Donald has been an extremely uneven businessman, taking businesses of his into bankruptcy four times.:
- The Trump Taj Mahal in 1991
- The Trump Plaza Hotel in 1992
- The Trump Hotels and Casinos Resorts in 2004
- The Trump Entertainment Resorts in 2009
- Donald is clearly part of the 1% on behalf of whom the system is rigged.
- His primary appeal, since he doesn’t need to accept SuperPAC money to be competitive, is that he can tell everyone else to fuck off. Which he has, repeatedly.
- In fact, the Donald has, in the course of his campaign – which he kicked off, of course, by essentially calling most Mexicans rapists and murderers — he
- defended a poor debate performance by accusing Megyn Kelly of being on her period;
- responded to rival Ted Cruz’s surge by calling for a travel ban on Muslims;
- brushed off complaints that he’s inspiring violence by saying his supporters are “very passionate” when two of his supporters attacked a homeless man;
- mocked a disabled reporter; and,
- poured scorn on virtually all of his rivals.
I’m still trying to figure out how this guy, the Captain of the Clown Car, got so many people to believe that he could actually make a reasonable President. I mean, the guy is entertaining in a certain “reality star” kind of way, but he is also completely without shame.
Maybe this is what his followers wish they could be. Without shame. An unrestrained bully. Saying whatever the fuck they want without any consequences at all.
And this, it should be pointed out, is very different from Bernie Sanders, who maybe honest and direct, but is not rash or abusive in his pronouncements. On the contrary, Bernie has gone out of his way not to personalize the conflict with Hillary, about whom he has repeatedly said that he likes and respects her.
Finally, as I’ve said before, I don’t believe that either one of these guys actually wants to be President. I think Bernie wants to be the conscience of America. I don’t think he wants to spend his time having his “revolution” repeatedly thwarted by a recalcitrant Congress. And for the Donald, I think this is one gigantic ego trip, one beyond his wildest imagination. He would surely enjoy the trappings of being President, but I doubt he has any interest in the details of policy making or in negotiating the minutiae of legislation with Congress, who are unlikely to just let him win.
 As the Donald rightly points out, he has never declared personal bankruptcy. Robert Reich has argued that Trump has abused the bankruptcy system nevertheless, and that his actions prove what’s wrong with the bankruptcy laws in America.
 Ezra Klein, in an article for Vox, has observed that “Behind Trump’s success is an unerring instinct for harnessing anger, resentment, and fear. His view of the economy is entirely zero-sum – for Americans to win, others must lose. In his New Hampshire victory speech, he went on and on about how the United States is “going to beat China, Japan, beat Mexico,” how “we’re going to beat all of these countries that are taking so much of our money away from us on a daily basis.” Trump answers America’s rage with more rage. As the journalist Molly Ball observed, “Trump doesn’t offer solutions so much as he offers villains. His message isn’t so much that he’ll help you as he’ll hurt them.”