By DANIEL STAMBLER
Given how unpredictable the primaries for the 2016 presidential race have been, it’s hard to imagine what will happen within the next year. That being said, one scenario has been constantly playing in my mind:
About one year from now, many people in the United States will be tuning in to watch the presidential debates. The past year would have been full of political frenzy in both the Democratic and Republican primaries, and now it could hypothetically be time to watch the two candidates go head to head. It would be time to watch Republican candidate Donald Trump debate Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders.
Wait, Trump vs. Sanders? Anyone who has been following the primaries of both parties will know what’s wrong with this hypothetical scenario. On the one hand, Donald Trump is an extremely brash and wealthy reality TV personality. He has a fairly large group of people who will constantly support him, he can self-fund his campaign and he gets a lot of media attention — both intentionally and unintentionally. The problem is that whenever he opens his mouth he manages to offend (a) certain group(s). Trump’s off-color remarks aside, my biggest gripe with him is that most of his statements are way too far right; His foreign policy ranges from ludicrous (such as strong arming Mexico to construct a Great Wall of the modern age) to not making any sense (how does he intend to get along with Putin, as he claims he would?) and yet he still hasn’t given us many details about how he intends to follow through on his policy goals. But enough about Trump. The media has pretty much covered anything about him. Let’s talk Sanders.
On the surface Bernie Sanders appears to be the polar opposite of Trump. He is the poorest of all candidates and makes an effort to connect with lower and middle class people by only accepting small campaign contributions. Bernie Sanders is a self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist as his policies include nationalizing banking and making all state colleges free. In addition, he has implied that he would close the gap between the one percent, which Trump represents, and everyone else. However, the largest difference between Trump and Sanders is their voter bases. Trump draws from several hard right-wingers who are fed up with the election system. Bernie Sanders on the other hand draws his support from a lot of young people, including many students here at Hopkins and at other colleges. Sanders is pushing for our government to be more socialist, and sticks to his beliefs since he has never abused the Political Action Committee (PAC) system, which I respect. All of this being said, here’s my problem with Sanders: his policies are way too far left. His goals would be extremely costly to accomplish and would involve turning a huge capitalist behemoth of a system into a democratic-socialist system that emulates the Swedish model. It would be near impossible and also potentially damaging. The social, economic and political conditions of the U.S. are simply inhospitable to the system Sanders wants to create.
Both of these candidates have gained major traction in their parties. What started out as a campaign where everyone thought the presidential candidates would be Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton has become very interesting. Despite the fact that Trump and Sanders stand on opposite poles of the political spectrum, they do have one thing in common: They have definitely threatened the establishment of their respective political parties. Their popularity shows how many voters are disillusioned with the campaign system and are willing to support candidates who will shake things up. If Trump maintains his lead (and actually lists out clear policies that make sense), and if Sanders keeps gaining traction (and if the email scandal continues to hamstring the Clinton campaign) then this scenario might become reality.
This would indeed make the 2016 presidential campaign one of the most interesting in history. But it would also be quite frightening. Why? Because who would the moderates (the majority of voters) pick? These two candidates represent the extremes of different groups. They stand on the very tips of right and left wing. On one hand we have a hawkish billionaire who constantly makes Moffensive statements and wants to make America “Great Again” (whatever that means). On the other hand, we have a self-admitted Socialist who plans to spend a huge amount of money, which conflicts with a lot of moderate American’s capitalist values, and wants to make the U.S. more like Europe. If you already support one of these candidates, then you already know who to vote for. However, many centrists will be left scratching their heads without a clue of who to pick.
Daniel Stambler is a freshman undeclared major from Pasadena, Calif.