BY JOEL MOSKOWITZ
I am pretty sure that if you watched the debates, both Democrat and Republican I imagine that you were struck by how different the issues were in each. Republicans debated national security, the second amendment, deregulation, repealing Obamacare and tax cuts. Democrats exchanged barbs about racial and income inequality, adding to Obamacare, Social Security, Medicare, gun control and redistribution of wealth. It wasn’t two different parties, it seemed more like two different countries.
There are segments of the electorate that will vote predominantly on one particular issue. For example gun enthusiasts will care little about a candidates stand on other issues, while say people on Social Security might not care about a candidates other positions so long as their monthly check isn’t effected.
From watching the Democrats go at it, one would think that we have no problems with terrorism in our homeland, while watching the Republicans one would think the government is coming into our homes to take away our guns. In reality, these debates serve to bolster a base that will vote for the nominee in the general election anyway. But in order to get nominated the candidates need to out flank each other just for the chance to take back most of what they said during primary season as they pivot to the center in the general election.
What we haven’t heard from either party or any of the candidates is that they understand that there really is a typical voter and they are ignoring that voter for now. Let me describe this voter to you. He or she no longer earns what they did in the past or their wages have been stagnant for the past ten years. Their taxes have remained level, but fees, fares, tolls, surcharges and sales taxes go up while services those costs pay for decline.
They live paycheck to paycheck and have little or no savings. Healthcare costs have risen while choice of providers has narrowed. They are forced to pay for a landline telephone they don’t use just to get Internet access they desperately need in order to function in the modern high-tech world. Banks charge them $35 for letting a $15 check clear when there are insufficient funds, while bouncing the mortgage check because the account is $5 short.
The gas, electric and water companies cut their service off in the middle of the winter without so much as a phone call or house visit then charge $50 to turn the service back on. Interest rates are at historic lows and it seems that only banks and wealthy people get to take advantage and borrow at those low rates while the poor and middle class have insufficient income or credit to qualify. The poor and middle class are also shouldering substantial high-interest credit card debt.
They watch as the news reports record levels in the stock market but their pensions and 401k’s are flat. The only ones seeming to get rich off of the bull market are the fund managers and hedge fund gurus who manipulate the markets. They watch as rich interest groups buy politicians who are forced by a broken system to spend most of their day raising money to stay in office. Insurance companies bailed out by the taxpayers raise homeowners and auto insurance and bailed out banks charge them fees for not having high enough balances. Their 30-year-old kids live at home because they don’t make enough to move out and are burdened by student loans they can never pay off.
This typical voter is also skeptical that anyone can do anything about his or her predicament. Some are turning to Donald Trump others to Bernie Sanders out of a sense that they can bring change. Many voted for hope and change in 2008 and again in 2012 but in reality what they got what was more of the same despite an illusion of the political pendulum swinging towards something new.
Our typical voter while perhaps energized by the new voices and the anger expressed by the outlier candidates does not believe any will make a difference and they are probably right. Interests are too deeply embedded, power is not ceded without a fight and we are too fragmented to get together to compromise our way toward improvement.
In the end the typical voter will choose a candidate they feel will do the least damage and hope they made the right choice. Like playing Powerball, we have a few months to dream about what life will be like if we win, but will there be any winners with this rigged system?
Joel Moskowitz is a businessman and writer who lives in New York. His blog, The Ranting Heeb is available on blogger.com. He is also a regular blogger for the Times of Israel.