The cliche phrase “Throw the bums out!” is less than a
hundred years old in modern usage, but it became a sort
of rallying cry in recent U.S. elections.
This year, the voters seem to be telling the political
establishments a contrary message, “Throw the bums in!”
Of course, it all turns on what you mean by “bums.” For
the major party establishments, the bums are Bernie Sanders
and Donald Trump, the two outsider figures who have turned
presidential politics upside down in 2016. The decisive
Democratic and Republican primary/caucus voters, however,
see the bums as their champions. In Mr. Trump’s case, they
have awarded him the first prize of the GOP presidential
nomination. In Mr. Sanders’ case, the final outcome is not yet
entirely clear, but at the least, he now controls the Democratic
Party agenda for the time being.
The original phrase was used to suggest a barroom situation
in which ostensibly inappropriate and raucous persons are
removed by a “bouncer.” The contrarian phrase, ironically,
suggest that inappropriate and raucous political figures are
just what the public wants, that is, figures who will challenge
and upend the status quo of American politics.
If American voters have decided that it is time for they
themselves to assume the role of political “bouncer,” we
might be in for a political brawl in 2016.
On March 4, 1797, the first American president left office to
an openly elected new president, another of the founding
fathers, following the first truly competitive U.S. presidential
election. After the swearing in of John Adams, George
Washington said to him, “Now I’m fairly out, and you’re
fairly in.” From that time on, American elections have
been fierce contests, pitting powerful personalities and
interests against each other.
This year will be no different.
Copyright (c) 2016 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.