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OPINION: Political strike-out

John Hewitt's Opinion Piece for Champion Newspaper

In 2008 a relative political newcomer who had served three terms in the Illinois Senate and one term as a US Senator, was elected the 44th President of the United States.

Barack Hussein Obama secured the Democratic presidential nomination against former first lady and New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in what to many was a surprise upset. Many assumed that Clinton would be the Democratic nominee. This upset sent shockwaves throughout the Democratic Party.

Obama later defeated long-time politician Arizona Republican Senator John McCain in the General Election to win the presidency. Obama was sworn into office in January of 2009 and became the first Black president of our nation.

Obama’s election was seen around the globe as a major change for our county and an upset to the political machine that had governed our nation for decades.

This was strike one against politics as usual. The people of the United States send their first in a series of messages of discontent; albeit, a bit less subtle than the most recent one, but a message of discontent nonetheless.

Four years later Obama delivered strike two against the political establishment by defeating another career politician when he was reelected as president over Republican heavyweight opponent Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

With Obama at the helm, the Democratic Party and the Clinton machine were busily prepping for the next presidential election positioning Clinton as the nominee and hopefully the first female president of the United States.

Clinton entered the 2016 presidential race and was challenged by yet another relatively unknown Senator by the name of Bernie Sanders. Sanders gave Clinton a run for her money and was gaining a lot of support by Democratic voters who did not want another Clinton in the White House. Sanders’ popularity continued to soar and it was then discovered that Clinton and officials of the Democratic Party had intentionally planted falsehoods against Sanders.

Sanders’ campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, issued the following statement in response to false claims by the Clinton campaign: “It is very disturbing that, as the Clinton campaign struggles…, they have become increasingly negative and dishonest. No, Bernie Sanders will not dismantle health care programs in America…Bernie Sanders is not ‘attacking’ Planned Parenthood…Bernie Sanders is not ‘protecting’ the gun lobby. He has a D- record from the NRA.

“Today’s attack from Secretary Clinton, whose super PAC received $15 million from Wall Street, is even more absurd. Bernie Sanders, who has never accepted corporate PAC money in his life, is now accused by Secretary Clinton of taking ‘about $200,000 from Wall Street firms.’ How do they reach that false and absurd conclusion? They assume that every nickel Bernie Sanders received from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee for his Senate campaign came from Wall Street. That is obviously preposterous.”

Many who supported Sanders became disillusioned by the power plays of the Clintons and the Democratic National Party and began considering Republican nominee Donald Trump.

Trump, who had never held political office and was best known for a reality television series and his global business empire, beat a large field of political heavyweights, including Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, John Kasich, George Pataki, Rand Paul, Rick Perry, Marco Rubio and Rick Santorum.

Trump’s continued rise in popularity baffled even the most seasoned of political pollsters and prognosticators; many of whom contended, until the Republican National Convention, that Trump would never receive enough support to secure the party’s nomination.

Trump obviously received the GOP nomination, but did not have the support of many within the ranks of the GOP.

Trump’s win was the third, and what may have been the final, strike against the political establishment.

One may wonder what the next step in American politics will be. Beginning in 1789 when George Washington was elected as the nation’s first president, the political machines have been hard at work trying to maintain power and control.

Our nation may have just experienced the end of politics as usual. At the very least, the political machine has three strikes against it.

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