Is it “The Year of the Disaffected Voter”?

Maybe you, like perhaps millions of Americans, are tired of hearing anything with “election,” “campaign,” or even “vote,” in it, so be patient as I share about Duke University’s Campaign Stop 2016, a website of “Commentary, Debate and Media Resources for the 2016 Election.”  In a series of two-minute podcasts in the “Glad You Asked” section (produced by Alison Jones, Senior News Writer for Duke’s Office of News and Communications), each participant answers the question “What should we be talking about this election season?” Last week I contributed a podcast that Alison entitled “The Year of the Disaffected Voter.”

My view is that the unexpected popularity of both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump has a commonality, that is, they are both connecting with millions of very frustrated people who have felt excluded from (and disgusted with?) the political process as it’s existed in recent years.

Even though many might actually disagree with key positions these candidates from opposite ends of the spectrum espouse, huge numbers of otherwise disillusioned voters still seem to greatly value the authenticity they appear to represent.  Could it be that they are drawn to the “what you see is what you get” personas of Sanders and Trump?  Do they perceive them as being “real” as opposed to carefully groomed products of political consultants and pollsters?

I think major political parties ought to be concerned that there are so many disaffected people out there who are attracted to candidates who seem to make it a point to almost eschew their party affiliation.  Moreover, doesn’t a democracy need citizens who feel they are part of the political process and have the power to make a difference?  Anyway, the short podcast is found here.

One of the things I like about the podcast and the Campaign Stop 2016 program generally is that it gives me the opportunity to hear what colleagues around the campus are saying.  For example, Eric Mlyn’s podcast makes an interesting case for national service.  And the Campaign Stop site also has links to faculty views that appear in a variety of outside forums.  These include national security-related commentary by such Duke experts as David Schanzer and Peter Feaver. Check it out!

Just for the record, I am a registered independent, and as a retired military officer I do not publicly endorse any candidate.

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