The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected. -- G. K. Chesterton
The 2016 U.S. presidential race is shaping up to appear as how G.K. Chesterton saw the world in 1924 -- with progressives all too willing to create new mistakes, while conservatives cling to the mistakes of the past.
Highlighting this feature of the race is the sheer amount of Republican infighting, primarily over who is most able to take America down the road of "true conservatism."
Take, for example, Donald Trump's tirade in Florida -- lambasting every Republican candidate (and some not in the race) with insults as he accepted an award from a local Republican group on May 21. This included calling Mitt Romney "a choker," Marco Rubio "a horror show," Jeb Bush "a total fool," and Carly Fiorina "a business failure." The insults continued into the lobby as Trump characterized both Rubio and Bush to reporters as "incompetent" with their "very bad answers on Iraq."
Trump claims that only he has the business experience to lead the nation down the true conservative path. And unfortunately, he's probably right.
While Trump has found a niche market in the television/entertainment end of business, we are still talking about the Donald Trump who had to file for bankruptcy protection on four different occasions because of overextending his company.Trump runs his own business with the same failed supply-side economics of the 1980s -- then runs for government protection from creditors when the result comes out the same.
While the conservatives are busy trying to do the same things over and over again, hoping for different results, the left isn't in much better shape, trying to rebrand itself into a progressive party.
Self-described "democratic socialist" Bernie Sanders lacks the party connections and campaign organization to truly launch an effective nationwide effort. While bringing in tons of cash, this lack of a firm foundation of political support will be his undoing -- not a lack of funding.
Hillary Clinton desperately wants to be the "small business president," but she opens herself to the same vicious attacks the Democrats laid on Mitt Romney about being in the "out of touch 1%."
But Clinton is charging on with this strategy, claiming her humble beginnings in a small-business family as her birthright to lead a nation with small-business values.
A "rags to riches" political spin isn't usually successful in a progressive-style campaign.
In short, Clinton will have her work cut out for her. Her path to victory might be easier had she stuck with the Democratic playbook of the past 50 years: the rich Democratic politician knows best and can protect the "little guy."
Much like Chesterton's world, what is missing are ideas -- real, achievable ideas -- and not party dogma or a populist rebranding effort. This is where both parties need to be extremely cautious.
The 2008 election won over the swing vote with an ideal, not an idea. Because "hope" can mean different things to almost any group of people -- it's easy to get lazy with campaigning and just put forward the ideals that people want to hear. More than likely, the swing vote will not jump on an ideal this election, but will favor the candidate who has a sensible idea or plan to improve the lives of the average voter.
This is where the oldest of political mistakes continues to plague the 2016 election on both sides. On both sides, there's a clinging to old or new dogma, but there's simply nothing new being put forward to improve people's lives. The political process is designed to serve people, not to serve the dogma that defends the political ideals.
Photo Source: AP