Trump, Hillary and Sanders are three sides of the same coin (er .. humentasch?). Their central message is “Those bad people are the cause of all your problems, and they’re coming for whatever you have left. Vote for me and I’ll stand up for you against them.”
They each have their own flourish.
Trump is the most over-the-top and he has two groups of “them:” the loser politicians and the evil foreigners they enable.
Hillary has the Clintonesque flourish where we, the people who don’t divide the world into us vs. them, are fighting them, the people who do.
Sanders is the authentic, classic Marxist, rallying today’s youth around the timeless 60s promise that The Times They Are A-Changing. Bob Dylan’s generation of flower children are all grown up and choosing between corrupt corporatists. The only constants in the world are socialist youth, Bernie Sanders’ opinions, and Teddy Roosevelt’s words.
A century ago, Roosevelt said:
Of one man in especial, beyond anyone else, the citizens of a republic should beware, and that is of the man who appeals to them to support him on the ground that he is hostile to other citizens of the republic, that he will secure for those who elect him, in one shape or another, profit at the expense of other citizens of the republic. It makes no difference whether he appeals to class hatred or class interest, to religious or antireligious prejudice.
— Teddy Roosevelt, Citizenship in a Republic
The us vs them approach represents neither classic liberalism nor conservatism. America isn’t Cuba where external forces are so sinister and overpowering that people have minimal agency.
Classic liberals and conservatives can respectfully disagree about health care, immigration, foreign policy, etc. But we once agreed that in the free world the primary line dividing good and evil ran within each of us, not between us. That the world was not Utopian in nature, but rather that striving, struggle and failure were integral parts of the human condition. That imperfect results were not necessarily caused by evil people doing stupid things. That our mission was to humbly and respectfully work together and find common cause.
Jews celebrate Purim tonight. The central phrase of Purim is “v’Nahafoch Hu” — and it was reversed. The slide towards physical and moral destruction and decay can stop when we stand up to it. May He who performed miracles for our forefathers guide us now, as He did then.