By Grant Regen
This political season has brought forth a storm of ideologies varied from past elections with Donald Trump, Dr. Ben Carson and Ted Cruz offering strict republican ideals and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont introducing a democratic socialist viewpoint. Such a broadened political spectrum will enliven voters, especially young ones, to not only cast a vote in this election, but also participate in the political process.
On June 16, 2015, Donald Trump, a real estate billionaire, announced his campaign for the presidency. Instantly, controversy arose with statements regarding Mexican immigrants.
Another candidate, Ben Carson, a former neurosurgeon, shares the more extreme conservative views of Trump, but maintains a calmer demeanor. “Ben Carson strikes me as a good man, but I think he’s a little extreme in his views compared to the mainstream, at least what I consider the mainstream,” said math teacher Mr. P.J. Pascale ‘78.
Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas.) completes the conservative radicalism of this election. The Texan has referred to President Obama as the “leading financier of terrorism against America” in response to the Iran nuclear deal. Earlier in September 2013, Cruz filibustered for more than 21 hours to discourage the vote to fund the Affordable Care Act. During his speech he read Green Eggs and Ham as well as providing a personal impression of Star Wars’ Darth Vader.
The opposite side of the political spectrum has similar emerging “radical” politicians. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) announced his campaign with the promise of a people-funded campaign or as his slogan reads, “Paid for by Bernie 2016 (not the billionaires).” Differing from classical democrats, Sanders is calling for a political revolution.
Criticism surrounds Sanders’ popularity and possible effectiveness as a president. “Bernie Sanders is really good for raising the issue of economic inequality as a moral issue; unfortunately, he’s not very good at addressing how he can provide a solution that will make the economy both moral and efficient,” said social science chairman Mr. James Zucker ‘91
Recent polls show that the public is enlivened by the new politics. The latest polls by major news sites from the first week of November rate Cruz and Trump collectively as holding 54 percent of the total republican vote. The latest democratic pollings shows Sanders as holding 36 percent of liberal votes.
Popularity aside, the political storm has brought interest to a system usually described as stale and outdated. “I would say [political radicalism]is actually bringing attention to politics that hasn’t existed before and is having people actually listen, think and discuss,” said mathematics teacher Mrs. Judy Dell’Amico, “I don’t know if the conversations are the best, but the fact that at least it’s igniting conversation is a good thing.”
While youth may be participating in the political process to hear Donald Trump criticize the clothing style of another candidate or Carson describe his “villainous” past, watching democratic and republican debates exposes viewers to a variety of political ideas. An estimated 24 million people watched the first republican debate along with an additional 15.3 million viewers for the democratic debate, exorberant numbers compared to past years.The first republican debate received more views than any other past primary debate in history. The open discussion of politics on the internet continues this modernization of the electoral process and makes young voters familiar with the political process.
Political radicalism moves government toward major change as well. Less than a decade ago, gay marriage remained a topic even many democrats were afraid to promote. Bernie Sanders, though, has supported the pride movement since 1983 when he helped designate Lesbian and Gay Pride Day on June 25th. The radical ideas of today brought about through progressive candidates will be the commonplace moral opinions of tomorrow.
Another aspect of political radicalism involves polarization of political parties. “[Political radicalism] is creating much more polarization, and the problem is not so much that we have political radicalization—we’ve had that in the past—but the good thing about it was that it always provided both sides with an extreme viewpoint that could clarify their differences, but then they would learn how to compromise and govern,” said Mr. Zucker.
Today’s variation of political ideas provides a ground for all to debate, but politicians must respect and compromise with their opponents in order to stimulate a healthy government. Political radicalism, when discussed seriously, can significantly change the nation for the better. As Loyola seniors vote in the coming election, they must remember to choose a candidate not for his hairstyle, but the beneficial change he will bring about.