The Democrats will win the presidency in November. This election, despite all of the controversy and media attention it has attracted, is, in reality, remarkably uninteresting in the competitive sense because there is not a viable Republican candidate. One might assume that I, a Democrat, say this as a celebration of my party’s inevitable victory, but I do not. This election represents a breakdown of the political right in America and the emergence of one of the most dangerous possible consequences of democracy, and the fact that my party happens to be benefitting from that does not make it any less terrifying.
Realistically, the best chance the Republicans have of beating the Democrats at this point would be to nominate Donald Trump. I say this not because I consider Trump to be an electable candidate, but rather due to my belief that he will undoubtedly run as a third party candidate should he not be nominated. The entire theme of his campaign thus far has been to portray himself as a rogue actor; he sees himself as not just another politician but someone with the money and power to run his own campaign. If Trump’s “I do what I want” attitude is the theme of his campaign, it stands to reason that if he is denied the candidacy in the Republican primaries, he will run anyways (despite his promise not to), touting himself as completely separate from (read: better than) the Republican political machine.
Would he win as a third party candidate? Absolutely not. The electoral system in the United States makes it all but impossible for third parties to gain seats in government. The most successful third party candidate in American history, Ross Perot, won 18.9 percent of the popular vote in 1992 yet received no Electoral College votes. No, Trump would not win as an independent, but if he were to run as a third-party candidate, he would all but guarantee a Democratic victory in the national election. The chunk of right-wing radical voters that have formed Trump’s voter base thus far would likely vote for him even if he were to run independently, and this would mean a substantive loss to the Republican presidential candidate. Simply put, given Trump’s prominence (and some might say dominance) in Republican primary polls thus far, any other Republican candidate would have a very difficult time overcoming the Democratic candidate without the votes of Trump’s supporters.
The Republican Party is faced with the unfortunate decision of either putting forth an unelectable candidate or confronting a devastating split in their voter base. It would seem, then, that the upcoming Democratic primary caucus in Iowa will be both more competitive and more salient than the national election, and our next president will be chosen before the snow melts in March. Who, then, will the Democratic nominee be?
Six months ago, that was hardly a question worth asking: Hillary Clinton was expecting an easy nomination, and the nation was expecting to see her get it. Bernie Sanders’ rise to prominence in this election represents a political underdog rallying supporters to build a campaign based on grassroots donations, hardly a different challenge than the one Clinton failed to overcome when President Barack Obama defeated her for the nomination in 2008. The difference, however, is that Sanders isn’t just doing what Obama did; he’s doing it better. With more than two million individual donations at the end of December, Sanders has already surpassed the record set by Obama’s campaign at this point in the race and has garnered enough success in the polls to pose a serious challenge to Clinton.
I have no desire to claim objectivity and would like to see Sanders get the nomination over Clinton. Clinton’s record is as inconsistent as it is uninspiring, and in a country where the voter base is already tragically apathetic and uninvolved, the election of a bland candidate that represents the continuation of a political dynasty would be a victory for cynics who believe that politics is a waste of time and that the voice of the individual voter means nothing. To me, Sanders represents far more than his liberal policies and animated mannerisms; rather, he is a candidate who wishes to speak for those who reject the candidate that the Democratic National Committee virtually chose for them and who wish to put someone in office who actually inspires them and fights for what they believe in.
Current Prediction for Victory: Clinton
Current Favorite Candidate: Sanders
Most Terrifying Candidate: Cruz
Tyler is a College junior from Commack, New York.