Because we are fed up, and we're having a hard time articulating why.
Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have come closer to articulating our feelings than anyone else. We seem to feel that insiders are pigging out at the trough while the rest of us are locked on the outside, whether those insiders are Washingtonians, billionaires, or minorities.
On the right, there's a rebellion of white undereducated males, who feel that minorities are getting special privileges. On the left, there's a rebellion of the young. What's the evidence for that youth rebellion? In the Wisconsin primary, Republicans under 30 didn't vote. But Democrats under 30 did. And Bernie Sanders won 60% of that Democratic youth ballot. Why? There's a basic fact we're not facing: student debt is turning college kids into indentured servants, slaves. And Bernie says that college should be free.
Meanwhile, Trump was winning white undereducated males up until this week. But in Wisconsin, those white undereducated males went for Cruz. By a very slight margin. But why? It might be because six conservative talk radio hosts in Wisconsin turned on Trump and blasted him every day for weeks. And those six talk radio show hosts seem to favor the policies of the billionaire donors--get rid of taxes on the super-rich and on regulation of mega-corporations. That is not Trump's policy.
But more in the realm of the unarticulated is bothering us. What we feel we need is truth. For fifty years, politicians have not been giving it to us. But this year in these primaries, something has changed. And two unlikely candidates are giving us bits and pieces that sound true. Trump blasts politicians who are paid off by the powerful. And he targets trade deals that hurt workers. Bernie Sanders may be a socialist, but he agrees. What truth, if any, does Ted Cruz--the man who won the Republican primary in Wisconsin--tap? That sixty percent of us don't want Donald Trump.
There's one more murky factor in your feelings about this election and mine. It's that strange emotion that politicians call a sense of momentum. Social psychology studies show that when someone is winning--like your local sports team--you say "we" won. But when your local sports team is losing, you say "they" lost. Not we, they. Bernie Sanders has won seven of his last eight contests. He's trying to project momentum, social gravity, social magnetism. He's trying to get us to say "we" not "he." And he just may be succeeding.
Donald Trump is going for the very same thing. And until Wisconsin, Trump was achieving his goal. So why the real estate mogul and reality TV star lose by 13.4% in the state of butter and cheese? He may have slipped up with the voters in a moment that went by very fast. On March 31st, Trump said we should let Japan and South Korea have nukes. On that day, The Donald no longer sounded strong. And he no longer sounded like he was the man to restore American greatness. He sounded, in fact, like a man who would let others take center stage. And he sounded like a man who just might let the world fall apart.
Let's hope this primary campaign finally helps us get whatever is bothering us out in the open where we can talk about it. And where we can do something about it. That's the power of truth.