COMMENTARY: As I look back at many of my early text message conversations regarding the 2016 primary elections with some of my political and media colleagues, I cringe. Oh how wrong we were — Republicans predicting a fairly boring election between Jeb Bush and Scott Walker and then against a virtually inevitable Hillary Clinton.
If you would have told me our presumptive nominee would be Donald Trump, and the Democrats could possibly have a contested convention with Hillary’s opponent not even being a member from her own party, I would have laughed at you. It’s clear us politicos and the media journalists are out of touch with the common American. We ignored the Tea Party and Occupy movements, believing they were merely small, angry protests and not the revolutions they really are.
We need to use 2016 as a way to learn and reconnect with the American people instead of ridiculing or patronizing them. Americans aren’t voting for Trump or Sanders because they are uninformed or uneducated. They are protest-voting because they are upset at how little the traditional party candidates have been able to accomplish. These voters are mad at how bad things are and how the establishment is ignoring important issues.
Trump and Sanders have returned the power back to the people. They have proven you can’t buy elections by defeating and severely damaging some of the most organized, highly funded campaigns in history. The condescending tone that comes from my peers in the media and politics is helping to fuel this fire.
I see how it can be frustrating to the typical party person when Trump supporters want to debate serious issues like trade or immigration, or Sanders supporters wish to discuss income inequality and student loans, and then all you hear from the major party leaders and media is about bathrooms.
For the first time in a long time thousands of new people want to enter politics, and we in the media and political circles openly mock them. We should be ashamed.
We in the political and media professions need to take a hard look at ourselves this year when a billionaire real-estate mogul and a 74-year-old socialist understand the American people better than we do.
America needs to unite again, and we can’t do that when our leaders and media keep telling the people they’re wrong. We need to move forward and reconnect with the common American.
Samuel LeDoux is 1st vice chair of the Republican Party of Santa Fe County and a delegate from New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July.