What great nation has lasted an eternity? Some empires come to mind when we try to answer this question. The Roman Empire lasted roughly 507 years. While Judaism is roughly 2,500 years old, the Jewish nation has come and gone many times over the course of that history. This year, our democracy in America rejoiced in its 240th birthday.
Every great nation comes and goes. To assume our nation is eternal, dear reader, is simply absurd. Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it. Those who do, in fact, know history are doomed to repeat it alongside everybody else anyway. To be cliché for a moment: nothing changes and everything changes.
But one thing is tangibly recognizable. While Sen. Bernie Sanders has long since lost the opportunity to represent the Democratic left in this election, the rise of people like Sanders and Donald Trump in our political landscape have forever changed the way politicians “play” politics.
There used to be a time when traditional party duality ruled all. Now both parties are scrambling to try and make sense of where the American political mindset is traveling. Both parties are guilty of trying to cover this up. U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan and the conservatives have absolutely no control over their candidate, Trump. They are constantly dropping endorsements, apologizing on his behalf and attempting to distance themselves from him at any waking moment. Toward the left, mountains of evidence have come out over the last year in regard to U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz being caught trying to rig the election against Sanders.
For better or worse, Trump and Sanders reshaped our political process forever. They pushed the boundaries of typical American political thought and dared their followers to dream bigger. The fact that both politicians had such a significant following, and still do, further proves this. Before, the illusion of choice within parties was clear, and on the whole, candidates in their party held extremely similar views to one another, not straying too far away from the status quo on questions of economics, abortion, foreign policy, et cetera. But with Sanders and Trump, that paradigm is shaken. While both align themselves within the larger party, their views on issues are non-traditional. Sanders advocated for radical views like subsidizing college tuition, overturning the Citizens United ruling and raising the minimum wage. Trump wants to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, punish women who get abortions and suspend due process. Regardless of how you may feel about any of those aforementioned policies, there’s no disagreement on the fact that they are new and innovative ideas in terms of the American political landscape.
While fresh perspectives are usually appreciated, as they were with Sanders, the line between that and unfiltered nonsense has become blurred. One Trump supporter told a protester to “Go back to Auschwitz.” Trump has opened the gates for social degeneration to flow through, where rhetoric (rather than policy) sparks discussion. If policy is discussed, people are still insulted and told they’re an existential threat.
With Hillary up in the polls, we can temporarily breathe easy. But this simply doesn’t go away after Election Day. These people and the thoughts they hold don’t just disappear. Pandora’s box has been opened, and what nonsense will come spewing out of it in the future is yet to be determined.