Nationalism May Be Down, But It’s Not Out

Presidents Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey and Donald Trump of the United States pose for photos in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, May 16, 2017
Presidents Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey and Donald Trump of the United States pose for photos in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, May 16, 2017 (Turkish Presidency)

Nationalism may be down, but it’s not out, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The nationalist insurgency is both growing and metamorphosing. It is not just eating away at relations between countries on issues such as free trade; it is also eroding the institutions and norms that prevail within countries.

With economies growing on both sides of the Atlantic, populists draw on cultural grievances to undermine the stable, rules-based environment businesses crave. Read more

How Worried Is the World About Trump’s Abdication of Leadership?

American president Donald Trump speaks with German chancellor Angela Merkel at the G20 summit in Hamburg, July 6, 2017
American president Donald Trump speaks with German chancellor Angela Merkel at the G20 summit in Hamburg, July 6, 2017 (Bundesregierung)

How worried is the rest of the world about Donald Trump’s abdication of American leadership?

Not as much as is commonly assumed, argues Parag Khanna. He sees Trump’s presidency as merely continuing the demise of American hyperpower in favor of a multipolar world.

Fred Kaplan disagrees. He argues that by his very abrogation of leadership, Trump has shown just how important the United States remain. Read more

Best Takes on the American Federal Government Shutdown

The sun sets on the United States Capitol in Washington DC, September 18, 2014
The sun sets on the United States Capitol in Washington DC, September 18, 2014 (Thomas Hawk)

The United States government ran out of funding on Saturday after Democrats and Republicans failed to do a budget deal that could get sixty votes in the Senate.

Two of the main sticking points are the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which Republicans failed to reauthorize last year, and the deportation of migrants who were brought to the United States illegally as children. Democrats argue these so-called Dreamers should be allowed to stay in the country.

Here are the best takes I’ve read on the crisis. Read more

Americans Should Seriously Consider Constitutional Reform

View of Washington DC with the United States Capitol in the distance, February 17, 2015
View of Washington DC with the United States Capitol in the distance, February 17, 2015 (Matt Popovich)

I completely agree with Timothy B. Lee: Americans should seriously consider constitutional reform.

This weekend’s federal government shutdown — despite Republicans controlling both houses of Congress as well as the presidency — is further proof that the system is broken.

Extreme partisanship, polarization, the politicization of the judiciary, government-by-crisis, legislators’ inability to tackle major issues like entitlement reform and Congress’ unwillingness to execute its proper spending and war-declaration powers all argue for an overhaul of the American political system.

Lee fears it will take an even bigger crisis before Americans accept the need for change.

But he is also optimistic that widening the “Overton window” on this might improve the chances of fixing the problem before a catastrophe occurs. Read more

Two Insights on the Trump Era from David Frum

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence of the United States walk together on the White House grounds in Washington DC, May 11, 2017
President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence of the United States walk together on the White House grounds in Washington DC, May 11, 2017 (White House/Benjamin Applebaum)

Two insights from Sean Illing’s interview with former Republican official and author of Trumpocracy, David Frum:

  1. The Republican Party has a platform that can’t prevail in democratic competition. And when highly committed parties believe they cannot achieve their aims democratically, they don’t give up on their beliefs — they give up on democracy. Frum believes Republicans should have moved to the middle, for example on health care and taxes. Instead, they elected Trump.
  2. Bureaucracies can function on their own for a long time, but the coordination between them requires a competent executive. That is lacking. The National Security Council is defective. There is no director of national drug policy at a time when opioid abuse is killing more Americans than any other disease. The Department of Justice keeps arresting people, Health and Human Services keeps sending out Medicaid checks, but there is no center, no stability.

French Parties Must Figure Out How to Survive in the Era of Macron

Emmanuel Macron arrives at the Elysée Palace in Paris for his inauguration as president of France, May 14, 2017
Emmanuel Macron arrives at the Elysée Palace in Paris for his inauguration as president of France, May 14, 2017 (Elysée/Nathalie Bauer)

Emmanuel Macron has redrawn the political map of France.

There used to be two major parties, one of the center-left (Socialists) and one of the center-right (Republicans), with smaller parties on the far left and far right. Macron’s centrist project, La République En Marche!, has thrown them all in disarray.

  • France Unbowed is a new far-left party cobbled together by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a former communist. Although an improvement over the once hopelessly divided politics of the far left, it doesn’t get more than 20 percent support.
  • For the Socialists, there isn’t much room between France Unbowed on the left and Macron in the center. Their support is in the single digits.
  • The Republicans are similarly caught between Macron on the one hand and the National Front on the other, but at least they still have a substantial base of around 20 percent.
  • The National Front probably hit its ceiling in the 2017 presidential election, when Marine Le Pen got 34 percent support in the second voting round against Macron. Read more

The Arguments For and Against Another Grand Coalition in Germany

German Social Democratic Party leader Martin Schulz, then president of the European Parliament, gives a speech in Brussels, February 2, 2016
German Social Democratic Party leader Martin Schulz, then president of the European Parliament, gives a speech in Brussels, February 2, 2016 (European Parliament)

Jeremy Cliffe lists the arguments for and against Germany’s Social Democrats joining another grand coalition government with Angela Merkel’s conservatives. Read more