The election of 2016 will go down in history as one for the ages.
From the close call that socialist Democrat Bernie Sanders gave Hillary Clinton in the primary contests, to the GOP's nomination of businessman Donald Trump, nothing in our nearly 250-year history has prepared the American voters for a cycle like this.
The only real choices they have are the most unlikable, untrustworthy candidates in our history.
How did we get here?
Democrats got here -- that is, to a place where they're held hostage to Clinton but had to fend off a challenge from Sanders -- by investing in the easy vote-gathering of identity politics.
This made sense when the natural Democratic constituency was an amalgam of minorities and working-class whites, according to Navy War College professor Tom Nichols: “But the Democrats increasingly became an upscale party that had no center ... and had totally wandered away from its class roots and into pure racial and gender appeals.”
That's how they ended up with an elderly white female millionaire as their nominee. As Democratic strategist Paul Begala once said, you can't sustain a party on African-Americans and college professors.
“If it weren't for Trump, Clinton probably would be going down in flames and America would have unified Republican government in 2017,” Nichols said.
Republicans never really accepted Ronald Reagan's challenge to be a governing party. They could never let go of the grudges they've nursed since the late 1960s, when Democrats abandoned white working-class voters who were not progressive enough.
“This stubborn obsession with feeling like outsiders -- even as they were capturing majorities in statehouses and in Congress -- was a sense of hurt that talk-radio and other opportunists nurtured among people who really felt themselves to be victims against all evidence to the contrary,” said Nichols.
"What led us all here, however, was the collapse of public education, and for this I put the blame squarely on liberalism,” said Nichols.
“Once education became about feelings and self-esteem, and civics classes were jettisoned in favor of politically correct subjects that made American history merely a march of victims and victimizers, the doors were open to any kind of nonsense,” he said.
Americans can no longer tell what's true or false. They are so steeped in relativism that they think an opinion is the same as a fact, and this is fertile soil for conspiracy theories, crank science, the inability to understand numbers, and a basic ignorance about the Constitution, among other failings --all of which Trump uses to his advantage.
“On the left," Nichols said, "the Sanders campaign, while not as bad as Trump, relied on the same ignorance among the young, who have no idea that Sanders could never possibly deliver what he promised.”
As sure as the sun rises in the East and sets in the West, arrogant progressive elites ensconced in their Washington, D.C., and Silicon Valley super-zip codes will overreach eventually. In small ways and large, they will tyrannize the rest of the country, for which they feel little more than contempt.
When this starts to happen, in perhaps another score of years, the beneficiaries will be conservative politicians who are brave enough to wade into and tame the populist cyclone.
America will need them.
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