Opinion: Wild election swings likely to continue beyond 2020
Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania — He has no idea which candidate he's going to vote for next month.
The 36-year-old registered Republican and conservative found President Donald Trump's comportment so distasteful in 2016 that he voted for Hillary Clinton. Since then, he found himself reluctantly liking Trump's accomplishments and started leaning toward voting for Trump in 2020. But he puts the brakes on supporting Trump every time the president says something he thinks is outrageous.
"I just want this chaos to end," he says in frustration. "That is what I am going to vote for: no chaos."
This suburban voter, like many others who might decide this election, now leans more toward Joe Biden. He is not alone.
Many voters going into this election next month believe if Biden wins the presidency, the constant disruption, chaos and social unrest will recede because Trump will no longer be president. Some of them are actually hinging their vote on that. Those exasperated voters and every reporter who spins that reasoning are as wrong about that as they were in their belief that the 2016 election was all about Trump. It never was.
Trump was never the cause of the conservative populist coalition that put him in office. He was the result of it. After decades of voters' dissatisfaction with both political parties, institutions, government and culture, they voted for themselves and their communities over both parties' establishments. It wasn't about voting for Trump.
A lot of very smart people keep missing that critical nuance.
If Trump's opponents, or those who cover him, were to spend any time listening to voters and not making fun of them, categorizing them as a cult, racists, stupid or whatever word of the day, they would understand that.
I don't mean parachuting in for a day at a diner and calling that understanding of a community but walking in their shoes and their community's streets to see how government has either failed them or passed their community by. It wouldn't hurt to stay in town for a couple of days, attend church with people, go to work with them or watch them coach Little League.
Look someone in the eyes while standing on the very ground they walk on, not from the bubble of your life experiences, and you might experience a little empathy.
As for Biden, despite his wistful assertion that he is going to bring this country together, anyone with a smidgen of understanding of the Democratic Party knows he will be hard-pressed to bring his own party together, let alone an entire country.
The hard and very vocal left will demand climate change legislation, defunding or deep restructuring of our nation's police forces, free college tuition, a $15 minimum wage, "Medicare for All" and a restructuring of our education system to include radical lessons like The 1619 Project as part of the curriculum.
The left will take its demands to social media, the streets and Washington until they get what they want. That is not a threat; that is just a reality. Biden is not the far left's candidate, but he is the means to an end of Trump. Once elected, there is a valid expectation of a far-left reward for voting for Biden.
The moderate Democrats, independents and suburban Republicans who may put Biden into office won't willingly go along with sweeping government changes to satisfy activists, or with higher taxes needed to support those changes. They won't take to the streets, but they will silently move away from the coalition in which they had decided to dip their toe. The result will be an instantaneous shift back toward Republican candidates for the 2022 midterm elections, and the continuation of the wildly swinging wave elections we've been experiencing since 2006.
In short, there is no exit from the roller coaster anytime soon.
We keep sending Washington a message with our votes every two years, and Washington keeps misreading the results. Journalism has contributed to this; a government that operates out of a bubble has contributed to this; Hollywood and our national sports leagues have contributed to this; and our national institutions have contributed to this.
Our institutions' lack of both racial and cultural diversity in the boardrooms are root causes. More people who come from a state school or community college; who sit in a pew every Sunday or attend a mosque or synagogue; who own a gun or grew up in the projects need to be involved in the decision-making processes of places that have an effect on our lives.
Instead, they are mostly filled with the best of the best Ivy League graduates who never had those experiences — or, if they did, forgot their significance along the way.
People feel left out. People feel as though all of these entities are picking winners and losers. Our elections reflect that chaos, and as a result, people feel whiplash.
Biden's team has tried to portray him as the salve that will heal our country. The hard truth is no matter who wins, no matter who takes the oath of office on Inauguration Day, our country will still be on a bender.
Salena Zito is a CNN political analyst, and a staff reporter and columnist for the Washington Examiner. She reaches the Everyman and Everywoman through shoe-leather journalism, traveling from Main Street to the beltway and all places in between.