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Possible cure for voter anger? A functional Congress

The Christian Science Monitor

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Super Tuesday confirmed the phenomenon of the 2016 presidential election – the rise of the anti-establishment candidate, most notably Republican Donald Trump. Nearly nine out of 10 of his voters were looking for an “outsider,” according to exit polls.

Many factors explain the popularity of this election’s establishment bashers, who also include tea party darling Sen. Ted Cruz (R) of Texas and the self-declared democratic socialist, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) of Vermont.

There’s globalization and the wealth gap, for instance, an ever-coarsening public discourse, and candidate overpromising. And here’s another big one: frustration with Washington. The government’s either doing too much or not enough, depending on your viewpoint, but in any case, it’s not working, many believe.

Voters are just following the lessons taught by Republicans such as Senator Cruz, who led the partial government shutdown in 2013, explained Kagan, who is no longer a Republican, though a critic of Obama’s foreign policy.

Indeed, frustrated voters have elected members who play to the fringes, while other voters, discouraged by polarization, have stayed home, says Jason Grumet, president of the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington.

“We, the frustrated” have fueled the anti-establishment, he says, but so have lawmakers who have torn down their own institution. “The number of members who have worked hard to get elected on the premise that the place needs to be steamrolled … has fueled that whole public imagination.”

Reversing course takes leadership and recognition that problem-solving necessarily involves engaging with people who hold different views, Mr. Grumet says.