Divided America, Deadlock in Italy and Catalan Separatists Try Again

Left- and right-wing America barely listen to each other anymore. Italy may need to vote again to break the deadlock.

An opponent and two proponents of marriage equality demonstrate in front of the Supreme Court of the United States in Washington DC, June 25, 2015
An opponent and two proponents of marriage equality demonstrate in front of the Supreme Court of the United States in Washington DC, June 25, 2015 (Elvert Barnes)

Anand Giridharadas writes in The Huffington Post that “Woke America” and “Great America” are so offended by each other that they can barely listen to each other anymore.

You are what offends you. Are you more offended by racism, sexism and other -isms or by people offended by those things? By the persistence of white privilege or by the term “white privilege”? By all the men who degraded women or by the implication in the air that it was “all” the men? By the original sin of American slavery or by the idea that your country has an original sin — one for which you are somehow responsible?

Giridharadas argues that beneath the anger of both sides lies pain. The only way to bring people together is to take that pain seriously.

I argued something similar in Quillette a few months ago: the only way to change minds is to empathize and explain. The meaning of democracy is not winning 50 percent plus one vote and then vanquishing your rivals. It’s a process. If we want to avoid splitting into parallel societies that don’t understand, much less care about, each other, then we all need to make the effort.

Italian parties call for new elections

Both Italy’s Five Star Movement and (formerly Northern) League have called for reelections in July after another round of talks led by President Sergio Mattarella on Monday failed to produce a breakthrough.

No single party won a majority in the election in March. The Five Stars and League explored a pact but fell out over the inclusion of former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi and his party. The Five Stars refuse to govern with him, the League refuses to govern without him.

The alternative, a coalition between the Five Stars and center-left Democrats, is blocked by Matteo Renzi, another former prime minister, who refuses to overturn his signature labor reforms.

Until a new government can be formed, Paolo Gentiloni remains prime minister.

Catalan separatists try again

The pro-independence majority in the Catalan parliament has made it possible for Carles Puigdemont to be sworn in as regional president from abroad. He is currently in Germany awaiting possible extradition to Spain.

The Spanish government, which suspended Catalan home rule and deposed Puigdemont following the independence referendum in October, is likely to challenge the new law, which passed without support from other parties. The Constitutional Court is expected to strike it down.

If that happens, the separatists will have to look for another candidate.