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This Election Cycle Is Anything But "Politics As Usual"

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 19/10/2015 Joan E. Dowlin
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There are two political revolutions going on in this country at the same time and they are being reflected in the presidential election polls.
In the far right corner, we have the Tea Party rebellion that began in 2010 as a revolt against big government, taxes and Obamacare. The Republican party took full advantage of this grassroots movement to gain seats in the House and Senate but now the establishment GOP are probably regretting the day they welcomed them into their tent.
The Tea Party has metamorphosed into the "Freedom Caucus" in the House of Representatives and they are causing a tempest in a teapot. The Republicans promised their voters a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, a border fence to keep immigrants out, lower taxes and debt, to make abortions illegal, to create a smaller government, to promote religious freedom (while defending traditional marriage), to strengthen the military, and for some to impeach the current president. None of that has happened since the GOP won the Senate and a super majority in the House in 2014 and the base is fuming. The Tea Party caucus has since led a revolt that resulted in the primary election loss of the former House Majority leader and the resignation of the current Speaker of the House creating a GOP leadership vacuum in congress.
And since those mid-term elections, President Obama has acted on his own through a series of executive orders on immigration, climate change, trade deals, and pushed through an Iran nuclear deal while the Supreme Court ruled in his favor on his healthcare bill and same sex marriage.
That's not what these Tea Partiers envisioned. They are so upset with DC and establishment Republicans that the two frontrunners for the GOP presidential primary are a billionaire real estate tycoon and an African-American neurosurgeon both of whom have never served a day in elective office. There is also a woman CEO who was doing well after the debates but now is sinking in the polls.
Having outsiders run is not new to the Republican party but it is unusual to have them lead the polls for as long as they have while 13 other career politicians are scrambling for air time and attention and higher polling numbers.
That is because the real estate tycoon is also a swaggering TV reality show star who knows how to command the spotlight and throw red meat to the Tea Party Republican fringe. He is also causing a major revolution in how modern campaigns are run.
The rule book has been rewritten by his candidacy and in some ways, it is quite refreshing. This presidential contender is not taking any special interest or super PAC money because he is funding his own campaign. This is shaking up the donor class and those who want to control the political world.
But the usual suspect pundits are also scratching their heads because they have been predicting the demise of this frontrunner for several months now. The playbook rule which says "when you commit a gaffe or offend someone important you must apologize and make amends right away or you will lose your public support" has been thrown out the window. In fact, this candidate doubles down on his outrageous statements of calling Mexicans rapists and a US Senator who was a prisoner in Vietnam not a war hero and a popular Fox News woman host a bimbo. He is more than teflon, he is titanium.
His unconventional style is turning politics upside down. One good thing out of all of this is that it is making more people pay attention to this election. The first two Republican debates had record high ratings with the first Democratic debate not too far behind.
Which brings me to the other revolution. In the far left corner we have a 74-year-old self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist Senator from Vermont who is giving the former First Lady- Senator- Secretary of State frontrunner and presumed Democratic primary winner a run for her money. He has called for a revolution by the middle class against Wall Street and corporate America and he also does not accept super PAC money but raises campaign funds from small donors and, unlike the GOP frontrunner, he is not a billionaire.
In fact, he rails against billionaires and the wealthy 1% of this nation. In the same way that the leading GOP outsider contenders are appealing to the Tea Party, this unconventional Senator and former Independent has tapped into the anger generated by the Occupy Wall Street movement which brought to light the issue of income inequality after the taxpayer bailout of the big banks in the 2008 economic crisis.
Both the billionaire and the socialist are drawing huge crowds and generating a lot of media buzz but there are stark differences between the two. The reality show celebrity is always speaking off the cuff and saying outrageous and offensive insults about his GOP rivals which does serve to keep him in the limelight in the way a traffic accident causes gaper delays. The socialist has said he will not personally attack his opponents and will run a clean campaign and so far he has kept his word. Imagine that: an honest politician. That in itself is revolutionary. He even spoke out for his closest rival at the debate saying we should be talking about the issues, not the partisan scandals. Very unorthodox, indeed.
And that Democratic debate was as kissy-feely as the GOP ones were mudslinging. Both methods were deliberately employed to appeal to the bases of each party. The question is: which approach will resonate more with independents and moderates in the general election?
One thing that is certain is that if these current frontrunners continue to dominate their fields, this will be an historic election. We will either have the first woman president, the first non-politician president, or the first socialist Jewish president. No matter who comes out on top, it seems the electorate is being heard and there will no longer be "politics as usual" this election cycle.

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