Aaron Burr and The High Sparrow

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This is my first blog post talking about politics since February. I’ve made a point to avoid the topic because so much of our media is saturated with it. Before I continue I need to explain one reference below. I loathe Donald Trump and everything he stands for. My hatred for him runs deep and began long before he ever ran for president. I vowed to never type his name in my blog. The current political race has made that very difficult as I do not want to completely ignore the election. So I’ve come up with a compromise. Going forward I will not type his name instead I will only refer to him as Aaron Burr. As a fan of the musical Hamilton I chose Aaron Burr as a nickname because there is a moment when Hamilton is asked to choose between Aaron Burr and Thomas Jefferson. Hamilton’s response is “I have never agreed with Jefferson once. We have fought on like 75 different fronts. But when all is said and all is done Jefferson has beliefs. Burr has none.” I think that is a perfect description as any.

What are we going to do with that crazy haired loudmouth? He hates Hillary and his supporters deeply distrust her along with any establishment politician. Many of the people behind him think that most of Washington has been bought off by special interest groups and his outsider standing is a large part of his appeal. In fact his membership in the party is relatively new compared to others. People see him as a true outsider. Despite his popularity with white people the party elite is worried that his views are too extreme and will alienate racial minorities and center leaning voters. His huge rallies are high energy and high tension and in some instances his supporters have used violent tactics to get their message across. While you might assume I’m talking about the Republican presidential nominee I’m actually describing Bernie Sanders and his supporters. When you take a large step back isn’t it remarkable how similar the supporters of Bernie Sanders and Aaron Burr are? Obviously the men themselves are quit difference and they have different views on how to correct our country’s deep problems but make no mistake I think they both believe the problem is the same: establishment politicians like Hillary Clinton.

A few weeks ago my boyfriend Russell and I had lunch with his father and the topic of politics inevitably came up. His father is strongly in favor of Aaron Burr while Russell is strongly against Burr. The discussion was getting heated and I tried to be somewhat of a bridge building centrist despite being strongly in favor of Hillary myself. In the end father and son agreed to disagree and also agreed that they shouldn’t discuss politics again. Despite all my judgments and opinions the lunch gave me a huge insight into why people like Aaron Burr. Russell’s dad explained that he liked Burr because he wasn’t a politician. In his mind most politicians are corrupt and all of Washington needs an huge overhaul. I got the sense that all those news stories attaching Burr for his awful views actually helped him in the eyes of his supporters. To them it just proves the establishment doesn’t like Burr and that’s good because the establishment is the problem. When Russell asked about all the awful racist things Burr has said his father’s response was simply, “He’s just saying what everyone has thought.” To his supporters, Burr’s awful hate speeches have come off as brutally honest and therefore a positive regardless of the actual message. Russell’s dad did make one point very clear though, he’d never ever vote for Hillary Clinton. It was an eye opening afternoon as it gave me the rare opportunity to get a good look at the other side’s perspective.

While I don’t often get a chance to talk politics with an Aaron Burr supporter I do have much more contact with Bernie Sanders supporters. In the effort of fairness I’ll give Bernie a nickname too. For the purposes of this article I’ll call him The High Sparrow. While Aaron Burr focuses more on the problem of social corruption from minorities, The High Sparrow deals mainly with financial and political corruption. Many  of the Facebook posts I see in support of the Sparrow are all underscored with the basic point that Hillary and the Democratic establishment are inherently corrupt and we need to save the country from them. Party leader Debbie Wasserman Schultz has clearly made a pact with the devil because the only way to explain The High Sparrow’s losses is due to voter fraud. It’s not possible that more people actually prefer Hillary. To his supporters, The High Sparrow is the anointed savoir that will bring about the changes needed to fix all this corruption.

While thinking about all the similarities between the supports of the two politicians it brings me some comfort to realize that we are all much more alike than we are different. I laughed at the Republicans for a long time because the white extremists of the Tea Party made a mockery of their party. I find it utterly fascinating that now The High Sparrow has (unintentionally?) created his own liberal version of the Tea Party. We as Democrats now have our own group of extreme white people who think it’s their duty to fix America and prevent Hillary from getting to the Oval office. Hopefully the black and Latino voters will vote with some perspective and not become disenchanted by all the crazy white people.

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