BY JOSEPH ORECCHIO
Acting Opinion Editor
This election cycle we are witnessing something quite remarkable. The apparent dissatisfaction with the direction of the country has resulted in the rise of candidates in either party whose views to varying degrees depart from their respective party’s political establishment. In the past there have always been candidates with views that could easily be defined as independent or even counter to those of the political establishment, yet these candidates have typically been discounted as on the political fringe or were not able to generate the momentum necessary to seem viable to those worried about wasting their vote. It would appear that a large segment of voters have finally decided to take matters into their own hands instead of waiting to have their predilections for a particular candidate affirmed by pundits. What we are witnessing this election cycle is the rise of populist candidates.
On the political left, self-described democratic socialist Bernie Sanders has gained quite a bit of popularity. On the political right, billionaire Donald Trump has also been very popular. Both candidates, although they have wildly different platforms, agree on one thing: the media has not been giving them a fair shake. Sanders purports, most notably, that there is a media “blackout” surrounding his campaign. This seems to be the case, especially when considering the time devoted to coverage of the various candidates on either end of the political spectrum. According to a Huffington Post article written in late September, broadcast news monitor Andrew Tyndall has noticed this unsettling disparity. When it comes to the coverage of Sanders’ campaign by the networks ABC, NBC, and CBS, Tyndall has observed that despite Sanders doing well in polls, placing 2nd only to Hillary Clinton, he received only eight minutes of coverage collectively at the time he published his report. To put this in perspective, Tyndall reports that this is one-fifth of the time devoted to Jeb Bush, who was coming in at fifth place amongst Republican candidates at the time. Donald Trump, however, has been in the spotlight of the media since he announced his candidacy. His common ground with Sanders in terms of the media not giving him a fair shake is not the amount of coverage he receives, yet the nature of the coverage.
Donald Trump, for the most part, is running on common Republican platforms; he is a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment, wishes to lower taxes, and desires a strong military and due consideration for our veterans. With respect to the Second Amendment, Trump has taken issue with “gun-free zones” which he calls a “catastrophe” and argues that instead of demonizing law-abiding gun-owners, that the focus should instead be on reforming our “broken mental health system.” This resonates with the American voter base according to a Rasmussen poll published on Nov 3. The poll states that 75 percent of likely U.S. voters said that they “consider the right to bear arms important.” This seemingly is an upward trend as an equivalent poll taken three years ago stated that 68 percent considered the same right to be important. When it comes to lowering taxes Trump said that his tax reform plan will help regrow the shrinking American middle-class. He would encourage this growth by eliminating the income tax for single taxpayers who make under $25,000 a year or those who are married and filing taxes jointly who make under $50,000 collectively. This would enable those who earn the least to keep more of their tax returns by simplifying the tax code. Trump also intends to regrow the shrinking middle-class by taxing all businesses no more than 15 percent, from small business to Fortune 500 companies.This lowered business tax would make America’s business tax rate one of the most appealing to business owners in the world. He argues that with the influx of business, steep tariffs placed on foreign imports, and by reducing or eliminating most deductions and loopholes in the tax code that we will be able to make up for the loss in tax revenue quite easily. Donald Trump also recently released his proposal to reform the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, an institution responsible for caring for our nation’s disabled veterans. His plan would encourage the VA to improve by forcing them to compete for a veteran’s business with any healthcare provider where Medicare is accepted. This is accomplished by enabling veterans to seek their healthcare elsewhere, essentially voting with their feet. Trump also wants to increase VA funding for treatment of invisible wounds such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injuries. Donald Trump is also addressing the “utter lack of respect” that the lack of permanently staffed OBGYN professionals in many of our VA hospitals demonstrates to “the growing number of female veterans.” This concern for women who have served their nation by putting their lives on the line in the armed forces heavily conflicts with the narrative many would have us believe; that Donald Trump supposedly dehumanizes and does not respect women.
Yet it is Trump’s stance on illegal immigration that has caught the attention of the American public and news media the most. It is his stance that our nation’s borders should be treated as such, that our immigration laws should be enforced, and that our tax-dollars should not be used to support non-citizens whose first act in this country is to disregard the law that has drawn the ire of not only the political establishment and news media, but those who confuse a position of desiring to maintain a sense of law and order with racism and bigotry. Interestingly enough, we probably would not even be discussing immigration reform had Donald Trump not brought it up.
Perhaps this is due in part to the prevailing culture of political-correctness, where feelings and emotions champion facts and realities. It is this very notion that in large part keeps the “silent majority” silent. One finds it interesting that “progressives” who preach tolerance and open-mindedness tend to have the least tolerance for opposing views and resort to name-calling and character attacks when somebody goes against the grain. For example, back in June when Trump announced his candidacy, Sally Kohn wrote an article titled “Trump’s Outrageous Mexico Remarks.”
“There were about three seconds Tuesday when I was excited about the idea of Donald Trump running for president, if only for the entertainment value,” Kohn said. “Then he opened his mouth.”
This type of response towards Trump’s stance on illegal immigration is not limited to those who claim to be progressive or liberal. Jeb Bush, a self-described “committed conservative reformer,” has gone after Trump on numerous occasions. Perhaps most notable of his personal attacks directed towards Trump was during CNN’s Republican Debate. Following an inquiry into whether or not Donald Trump went too far by implying that Bush’s views on immigration were in large part influenced by his wife being a Mexican immigrant, Bush proceeded to characterize discussion of enforcing our nation’s immigration laws as a “raucous political conversation” and went on to demand Trump’s apology for bringing his wife into it. When it became clear to Bush that Trump was attempting to communicate that his words were being mischaracterized, Bush started to talk over him and stated that his wife was in the audience. He then demanded that Trump apologize to her at that very moment; as if somehow his mischaracterized statement was aimed at Bush’s wife to begin with. When Bush realized that Trump has no intention of apologizing, he then went on the talk about how immigrants come to this country as “an act of love” and again mischaracterized Trump’s position on illegal immigration as a position of fear. He did all of this while making no clear distinction between illegal immigrants and legal immigrants; a distinction that Trump stresses repeatedly.
Even when the news is being reported in the most empirical of fashions, it is still rather evident that there is selective reporting taking place. Many major news outlets such as CNN, The Washington Times, and The Wall Street Journal took advantage of Republican candidate Ben Carson’s newly won lead in the polls in the state of Iowa. Interestingly enough, Donald Trump placing 2nd in a single state’s polls was headline material, while Trump topping polls elsewhere nationwide was not. Even more confounding, or perhaps telling, was that on that very day it came to light during the Benghazi Hearing that Hillary Clinton had sent an email to her daughter Chelsea Clinton in which she stated, “Two of our officers were killed in Benghazi by an Al Queda-like group…I fear more of the same tomorrow.” This flies in the face of the story we were all told back in 2012. Clinton and even our president told us that the attacks on the American Embassy at Benghazi were the result of a crudely made film that Barack Obama said “sparked outrage throughout the Muslim world.” Many leading Democrats and members of the mainstream media have accused Republicans of leading “a witchhunt” against Hillary Clinton in regards to her emails yet based off the way the news is reported nowadays, it makes one wonder who is really experiencing the wrath of the political establishment and the media. Who is the one that is truly being “burned at the stake” nowadays?