The 2016 presidential sweepstakes aren’t playing out according to script. Hillary Clinton seems less and less inevitable. Her improbable foe, Bernie Sanders, continues to gather momentum. That momentum comes not from the political class, but from the people, people fed up with those who preach political correctness while profiting from the Washington establishment and its nexus with power centers of immense wealth.
For the Republicans Donald Trump continues to lead the crowded GOP field regardless of what he says or does. The Republican establishment and the party power structure first believed that ignoring him would suffice. They believed his intemperate, politically incorrect tirades would capsize his candidacy. When that didn’t work they maneuvered to get him to sign a pledge that he would not run as an independent candidate. Now they are attempting to destroy him.
But none of the efforts to silence Trump or Sanders is working . Why? Maybe the answer hides in plain sight. What if the power brokers in both parties are guilty of the same blindingly stupid mistake? What if they have taken the whimsical advice of baseball great, Satchel Paige, who said, “Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you”? They have, because looking back at what’s gaining on them brings into focus a reality so threatening to the perpetuation of their vested self interest that it must be denied.
What’s gaining on both political parties is the fury of the American people. Sanders’ and Trump’s momentum are being propelled by that fury. Washington is about to meet its match, and the 2016 election will be nothing short of unpredictably transformational.
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The origin of political correctness decades ago was innocuous enough. Putting boundaries around offensive, hurtful speech and behavior seemed reasonable. But it has been transmogrified by elitists into something so pernicious that most Americans now rightly reject it. No longer sensible or silly, it has become an instrument aimed at not only changing behavior, but also at stifling free speech. Today’s virulent form of political correctness demands conformity to its strictures and shows little mercy in punishing those who dare to challenge its expanding hegemony.
The American people reject the PC strait jacket. A Fairleigh Dickinson University poll last fall found that 68 percent oppose political correctness. More importantly, this view is not held exclusively by hard right Republicans. It is shared by 62 percent of Democrats, 68 percent of independents, 81 percent of Republicans, 72 percent of whites, and 61 percent of nonwhites.
Donald Trump’s appeal is rooted in his opposition to political correctness. What’s now clear is that, if it’s OK for a presidential candidateto confront PC for the evil that it has become, then it’s OK for all of the rest of us to do so too. Trump has let the genie of outright opposition to political correctness out of the bottle. And it’s going to resonate across the entire political spectrum.
When we get into the fall campaign, if it’s Donald Trump versus Hillary Clinton, the political class, the pundits, and those in the media and academe who cloak discrimination in the name of making the world safe for diversity will be in for a rude awakening that will violate their “safe spaces” and arrive without “trigger warnings.”
Regardless of whether Donald Trump wins the GOP nomination or the presidency, his legacy as a trail blazer is already secure. And that’s a very good thing.
Goldman worked on Capitol Hill and at the National Institutes of Health. He has retired to Flat Rock and can be reached at email@example.com.