"Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government." Thomas Jefferson

The Backstory Behind 2016's Headlines

Melanie Sturm | @ThinkAgainUSA Read Comments - 13
Publish Date: 
Thu, 02/11/2016


In this topsy-turvy election year, wonders never cease, as Americans Think Again about how to throw the bums out, even unelected bureaucrats.


The willingness to break with long-standing political norms isn’t surprising, considering voter anger, pessimism and spiking anxieties. Recent surveys of Americans show overwhelming majorities believe the country is on the wrong track, the American Dream is unachievable, and our powerful, unaccountable government is America’s biggest threat.


Consequently, political dynasties have been rendered passé, as mega-donor darlings Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton discovered en route to their coronations. Not even their powerful Super PACs (funded by unlimited individual, corporate and union support) can assure their victories.


The standard trump cards aren’t working either, including the gender card, played recently by former Secretary of State and Hillary-backer Madeleine Albright who admonished, “there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.”


For Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Ben Carson, the normally formidable race card trumps nothing. But a blustering and incoherent Donald Trump trumps everything, thanks to the limitless free airtime the ratings-hungry media grant him. ”I’m winning by a lot,” the self-funder boasts, but “I spent almost nothing.”


Meanwhile, the media leaves unexamined Trump’s assertion that his wealth is a scorecard of his abilities.  Some analysts calculate the present value of Trump’s inheritance would approximate his current net worth, if he’d simply invested it in the S&P 500.


Undermining Trump’s inevitability, the self-described winner’s first electoral outing was a loss to Cruz and near-upset by Rubio, as 76 percent of Iowa caucus-goers voted not-Trump. His New Hampshire victory was impressive, capturing all demographic groups, but two-thirds still voted not-Trump.


As under-performing contenders like Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina exit the crowded field, the eventual consolidation – and Trump’s record-breaking unfavorability in the general population – bode poorly for his candidacy.


Nevertheless, the ratings-magnet is well positioned to parlay popularity into a Trump network, like the media platform that made Michael Bloomberg – who’s contemplating his own self-funded presidential campaign – one of the world’s richest.


Another surprising result was Cruz’s defeat of King Corn in Iowa. The anti-Washington agitator won record numbers of votes in a historic GOP turnout while arguing that farmers are hurt by government ethanol mandates – not helped, as powerful agribusiness lobbyists allege.


Most extraordinary is Bernie Sander’s durability. Polls show the septuagenarian-socialist tied with Clinton nationally, after narrowly losing Iowa but routing her in New Hampshire where 93 percent of Democrats prioritizing honesty preferred Sanders.


Are voters drawn to Sanders’ socialism, or is he the beneficiary of a “no more Clintons” mindset, especially after reports the Clintons “earned” $153 million in speaking fees since leaving the White House?


It’s probably both, since Sanders’ support skews young. Thirsty for trustworthy leadership, “Sandernistas” have witnessed government bailouts and rampant cronyism, while suffering through the feeblest economic recovery since the Great Depression.


According to Pew Research, this generation is “the first in the modern era to have higher levels of student loan debt, poverty, and unemployment and lower levels of wealth and personal income.”


No wonder they find political revolution tempting. But they should study the American Revolution before accepting Sanders’ plan to concentrate ever-growing government power in the name of “social justice.” 


As founder James Madison explained, “The essence of government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse.”  Concerned that a government would eventually encroach on rights and liberties, Thomas Jefferson forecast “debt, corruption and rottenness,” absent constitutional guardrails.


That’s why, after overthrowing King George’s arbitrary and unfair rule, America’s founders established a government with limited powers to protect the equal rights of the people, believing the boundless potential of individuals operating in a free society would “make America great” – and they were right.


Yet as government has grown, so have its anti-competitive powers, corrupting our founders’ liberty-preserving system with cronyism that rewards political connections over competitive excellence.


Using massive powers to legislate, tax, spend and regulate, policymakers have rigged the economy and undermined the principles on which freedom, fairness and opportunity rely – equality under the law, property rights and sound money.


Given America’s heritage and Big Government’s dismal track record, it’s stunning that Sanders and Trump -- both advocates of using unprecedented government power to centrally plan and control economic life – could win New Hampshire’s “Live Free or Die” state.  Have its freedom-loving voters forgotten the national purpose their state helped found – the democratic self-rule of a free people?


Hopefully, America is in revolt and casting about for outsiders not because they want more government, but because of the failures of our hyper-politicized, unaccountable government: contaminated water, terrorist attacks, dying vets, IRS harassment, illegal immigration, health care chaos, and murdered U.S. diplomats and border guards.


Think Again – in this anti-conventional wisdom year, may our founders’ wisdom about the dangers of Big Government ultimately prevail.

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This is such a stunning quote

This is such a stunning quote from an otherwise sensible friend of mine that I still can't quite believe it. It is in reaction to concerns I expressed about Trump doubling down on Obama's extra-constitutionalism.:

"...you decided to spew your hate for Trump enough already, there are too many of us that see the world changing for the good with Trump in charge!!! Hope you wake up before it is too late!!!!"

Trump in charge changes the world. These people don't want a president, they want a king.

You seem to be on the right

You seem to be on the right track.

It will take an obnoxious, non-politically correct loudmouth, insulting person to save us from the current government of corruption and non constitutional actions of the White House. Not to mention the cowards or turncoats, whatever they may be, in the House and Senate that has let us down after the latest election.

If bernie wins, the country will fail, as it did in the beginning when it started with socialism. And then we will have Chaos guaranteed, as never before seen since time began.

I can relate to trump because I have been self employed for 33 years now, and have been fighting government interference since day one.
We need an entrepreneur to lead this country. One who isn't tempted by bribes, because he has all the money he needs. He is also down to earth and thinks like any self employed person, and his interests are for the working people who are here legally and willing to work and support themselves, which is what has made America the greatest.

We need shock and awe to get us out of this quagmire. Thanks

They both talk like they can

They both talk like they can get into office and make sweeping change, and the world will be rainbows and lolly pops.

They have Congress, they have the American people, they have the judiciary. Bernie wants to give out free stuff, and when reality sets in and you get your paycheck and 45% of it iis now going to the government to pay for that free stuff, and you can't pay your rent, or utilities, the wake up call is just a bit to late.

Mr. Trump talks a good line, but he talks out of both sides of his mouth. I understand why the American people like him, he is bold, passionate, and does not back down, but he is also arrogant, and narcistic. In many things he is totally ingnorant, and he tells you want he thinks you want to hear. Here are two not so great choices.

The scariest part of all this

The scariest part of all this is that many Americans are starting to support a socialistic approach to our problems when we see that no good consequences have ever come from a socialist system over the long term.

America is a unique Institution - the only country founded on the principles of individual freedom and liberty where the government answers to the people, not the other way round. It is the most diverse and dynamic of all countries and has produced more wealth and a higher standard of living for its citizens than others.

Those socialist Scandinavian countries are incapable of defending themselves. I feel we are losing our way in America and, if we do, the rest of the world will be more unstable. The future looks scary right now.

The Founders were well aware

The Founders were well aware of the miserable history of failure of republics. Rome, Venice, Florence all failed after temporary success. Jefferson especially held that republics can only succeed if the polis is virtuous. He understood this to mean hard working, honest, pious, and invested in sustaining the integrity of government, above all else, avoiding tyranny.

It is clear that these conditions do not apply to us now. We head toward some kind of singularity whose timing and nature are not perceived. It will not be good.

Great article especially

Great article especially paragraph 7 -- about Trump's net worth.

You never mentioned Kasich, the only one at this point I might be able to trust. A long time liberal, but as much as I like much of what Bernie proposes, it is mostly not possible and not fiscally responsible.

I can't really tell, but I think you're a conservative, with your statement about "feeble economic recovery," which it may be. But I hate to have seen how it would have turned out with any republican following in Bush's footsteps. But who knows.

You hit many good points, now share with me who you think you could support this go around, and please not Cruz. Thanks for great article.

Good article with excellent

Good article with excellent conclusion.

You say, "76 percent of Iowa caucus-goers voted not-Trump." But higher percentages voted against all the other candidates. That is the good or bad thing about statistics. They can prove anything.

Some think young people who support Sanders like his free college proposal and other promises of freebies. At Harvard University a group of alumni including Ron Unz and Ralph Nader ran for the Harvard corporation (like their board of trustees), and supported free tuition.

Great column again. What I'd

Great column again. What I'd like to know, though, is WHY you think the US electorate is heading towards such a "Sophie's (or in other words: impossible) choice". If it would be utter discontent for politicians and DC, there should be a huge discrepancy between the polls and actual numbers. I mean, Americans won't actually vote for a socialist or a despot?

Coming from a social democratic country in Europe, I have come to realize here that Americans will never think like "us". Culture and context couldn't be further apart. So what about the alternative? Will people actually lose their minds and vote for an uncapable morron? Why do you think the Republican party has not been able to push forward a talented, capable candidate for years?

Anyway, I wish all of you best of luck. I am glad I don't have to vote in this country!

I suspect Sanders believes in

I suspect Sanders believes in his socialist dream and would try to implement it. I believe Trump started out having a good time and now realizes he can get the nomination and possibly the White House.

But I believe Trump is doing what he thinks will get him votes. I'm not sure how much if any of what he's saying in the campaign he believes or would try to implement. Not saying none of it. Just saying it's impossible to tell because he's focusing first on getting votes.

If the voters really are in revolt, though, we need to concentrate also on the House and Senate (the Senate is really a POS these days with go along to get along Mitch McConnell dancing to Harry Reid's tune), and on keeping state governments in conservative hands.

Melanie, excellent! The

Melanie, excellent!

The problem in America over the past 60+ years is the absents of competent leadership brought to us by the democrats and republicans. Will we ever wake up? I am a libertarian but even they have failed to provide the leadership necessary to restore our future. Show me one politicians, commentator, professor, or talking head that clearly sets forth the new path we must take to save our children from civil and financial collapse........

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