In Trump vs. Sanders, we’ve finally come full circle back to the 1930s

So I’ve been following the current Primary soap opera to an unprecedented level in my life. At risk of being sucked into the media hysteria, or hyperbolizing, let me try to be vaguely articulate about what I’m seeing here because it’s actually quite interesting from a historical standpoint.

It’s probably too early to tell, but I do believe evidence is mounting that we’re heading towards a Trump/Sanders general election. Yet even if we do not, the fact that what they stand for respectively has gained such fervor will have further echoes into the future of the race, and the country. Because in short, I feel like we’ve actually returned to the 1930s. 

On the right with Trump (and a Greek Chorus of the other primary candidates like Christie) we have some very proto-Fascist saber rattling, with illegal immigrants as the new undesirable minority that is “taking our jobs”, who should be numbered and labeled and tracked, and basically “put away” so they stop impacting “our” country. 

On the left we have a return to a proposed New Deal with Sanders - a recent Depression/Recession which still has many families in desperate circumstances, promoting a package of minimum wage hikes, social safety nets, Wall St regulation, and infrastructure bills (last executed on this scale by that notorious Commie, Eisenhower). 

Both parties are reacting to a distressed middle class who seek a solution and a scapegoat to their current suffering.

To me it feels like after 80 years of dealing with the fall out of WWII, we’re back to the same questions that preceded it, which originates in an even older question dating back to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution itself, only now with the addition of further technology and increasingly borderless nations. With the new generation no longer fearing the McCarthy-era “Us vs. Them” of “you’re either a capitalist or a communist, there is no in-between”, we’re back to asking “How do we regulate a sophisticated, global, capitalist economy in a way that is most beneficial?”

In a very real way, we’re back to a modified version of the question of socialism vs fascism, whether the state should be married to the people or to corporate interests to keep a stable and healthy economy. We’re back to reeling from a recent Recession, with parts of Europe that are seeing oppressive austerity and unemployment as a side-effect of paying reparations to other parts of Europe (see Greece’s “Golden Dawn” movement). We’re back to having a large population of hurting veterans from the last Great War (WWI vs. Iraq), and facing the question of how to help them even as we discuss starting the next war. 

I don’t want to torturously twist our current narrative to match the 30s, so I’ll stop there, but I would say that because of WWII we never actually answered these questions definitively, and as a result two generations later we have finally returned to them as those events leave living memory. Even if the election is not between Trump and Sanders, they have already had a lasting impact on the issues of the next general election.

When the media worries about what Hillary’s hair looks like or what my hair looks like, that’s a real problem. We have millions of people who are struggling to keep their heads above water, who want to know what candidates can do to improve their lives, and the media will very often spend more time worrying about hair than the fact that we’re the only major country on earth that doesn’t guarantee health care to all people.
—  Bernie Sanders today after being asked about his unkempt hair