We are coming to the end of the age of Obama. His presidency galvanized an electorate in two very different ways. For many Americans it was the culmination of a dream. It was a historical era that few believed that they would ever see, but for others it further solidified that the country had changed in a way that left them feeling uncomfortable and disconnected.
A palpable sense of anger gripped them, and 2016 is the time that many think they can change the trajectory of the nation.
In some ways this election season has been defined by anger. One presidential candidate wants to make America Great Again, one touts economic inequality, and one stands on the precipice of history by possibly becoming the first woman to hold the highest office in the land, but are they truly discussing issues or are they exploiting anger?
Is anger fueling this election season? Yes, but is that a problem? No. Anger can be a motivator. What makes anger dangerous is when it is coupled with fear. Fear mongering and anger are two very different things. Some of the candidates have leveraged the fear and are using it to gain voters.
Candidates are not necessarily giving detailed plans for change, but they are affirming the fear and promising answers will be revealed, but only after the election.
What has stoked this visceral anger? Some point to the 2008 election of President Obama and the creation of the Tea Party. The Tea Party was initially the radical wing of the Republican Party, but over the years they have evolved into their own entity with the goal being to change the system. The Democrats have seen the rise of a previously unknown senator who has attracted young people, and the far left wing of the party, and in doing so he has managed to bolt to the top of the polls in some key states.
The irony is Barack Obama’s candidacy was predicated on Change, but 2016 is about radical change that seeks not to just alter, but in some cases destroy.
The real question is: Is anger the best way to elect a president? Each voter has to answer that question individually and determine where they want to see the country go, and who they want to lead it there.