Denmark’s Left Must Find Balance Between Nativists and Progressives

Danish Social Democratic Party leader Mette Frederiksen, June 28, 2016
Danish Social Democratic Party leader Mette Frederiksen, June 28, 2016 (Facebook)

Denmark’s Social Democrats are eying cooperation with the nationalist People’s Party which they have shunned for years.

Under Mette Frederiksen, who took over the party leadership after its 2015 election defeat, the center-left has supported such far-right policies as a ban on prayer rooms in schools and universities.

The two parties, who are both in opposition to a liberal minority government, have also made common cause against raising the pension age.

Frederiksen argues she is defending the Danish welfare state from the challenges of globalization.

Her strategy is not too dissimilar from her Swedish counterpart’s. Stefan Löfven, the ruling Social Democratic Party leader in Stockholm, has taken a hard line on border control, crime and defense in a bid to stem working-class defections to the far right. Read more

In Defense of Democratic Centrism

Former American secretary of state Hillary Clinton and Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York attend a political event in New York City, April 4, 2016
Former American secretary of state Hillary Clinton and Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York attend a political event in New York City, April 4, 2016 (Hillary for America/Barbara Kinney)

In Current Affairs magazine, Nathan J. Robinson takes issue with the centrism of America’s Democratic Party.

The idea that Democrats can win elections by reminding progressives they have nowhere else to go and reassuring conservatives they won’t go after big business is a dead end, according to Robinson:

For one thing, it doesn’t work. Unless you have Bill Clinton’s special charismatic magic, what actually happens is that progressive voters just stay home, disgusted at the failure of both parties to actually try to improve the country.

This is the left-wing version of the Ted Cruz philosophy: that you can win national elections by mobilizing your base instead of appealing to the center.

The evidence (PDF) is against it. (Also see Scott Alexander.)

A few fanatics might hold out if Democrats nominate too centrist a candidate, like Hillary Clinton, but the majority will make the rational decision and vote for the lesser of two evils, as many Bernie Sanders supporters did in November. Read more

Coal and Steel? Donald Trump Is Living in the Past

American president Donald Trump speaks on the phone during a flight on Air Force One to Pennsylvania, January 26
American president Donald Trump speaks on the phone during a flight on Air Force One to Pennsylvania, January 26 (White House/Shealah Craighead)

Donald Trump isn’t big on technology.

“I think the computers have complicated lives very greatly,” he said last year. (The computers.)

The whole, you know, age of computer has made it where nobody knows exactly what’s going on.

By “nobody”, he means himself.

On another occasion, the president said, “I’m just not a believer in email.”

By contrast, Trump has spoken at length about American coal and steel and his desire to revive the two industries.

This doesn’t make economic sense. Read more

Trump’s Son Joins List of Officials Who Lied About Russia Contacts

Donald Trump Jr. speaks at a campaign event for his father in Tempe, Arizona, October 27, 2016
Donald Trump Jr. speaks at a campaign event for his father in Tempe, Arizona, October 27, 2016 (Gage Skidmore)

It’s hard to find anyone in Donald Trump’s orbit who didn’t meet and speak with Russian officials at some point.

And they all lied about it.

The latest addition to the list is the president’s oldest son, Donald Trump Jr.

The New York Times reports that in the summer of 2016, the young Trump met with a Kremlin-friendly lawyer in New York, hoping to get compromising information about Hillary Clinton.

Paul Manafort, the then-Trump campaign chairman, and Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and close advisor, both attended the meeting.

Junior first denied the meeting happened. Then he admitted it did, but claimed it had nothing to do with politics. Only then did he admit it was campaign-related after all, but there was nothing wrong with it because the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, didn’t have any dirt on Clinton. Read more

Barcelona and Madrid Are on a Collision Course

View of the Columbus Monument in Barcelona, Spain
View of the Columbus Monument in Barcelona, Spain (Unsplash/Benjamin Voros)

Since Catalonia’s regional government announced it plans to hold an independence referendum in September, tensions with the central government in Madrid have been rising:

  • Catalan leaders have said they would declare independence within 48 hours of a vote to break away from Spain, regardless of turnout.
  • Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy has dismissed the plan as an “authoritarian delusion”.
  • Defense Minister María Dolores de Cospedal has warned that the armed forces are tasked not only with “protecting the values of democracy and the Constitution, but also the integrity and sovereignty” of Spain.
  • Spain’s Constitutional Court has blocked the €5.8 million the Catalan government had set aside to pay for the referendum.
  • Catalonia is in the process of separating its tax agency from Spain’s in case the region does decide to secede. Read more

What’s the Point in Talking to Putin?

Russian president Vladimir Putin listens during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, December 21, 2015
Russian president Vladimir Putin listens during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, December 21, 2015 (Presidential Press and Information Office)

If Donald Trump is hoping a good talk with Vladimir Putin in Hamburg, Germany on Friday will sort out East-West relations, he is probably mistaken.

David Kramer, who served in the George W. Bush Administration, argues in The American Interest that dialogue means little if your partner is unreliable.

  • Russia is on the opposite side in the Syrian Civil War, supporting the dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad while doing little to eliminate the self-proclaimed Islamic State.
  • Russia has been supporting and arming the Taliban in their attacks on American troops in Afghanistan.
  • Russia continues to stir rebellion in southeastern Ukraine in violation of the Minsk ceasefires. Read more

Trump Absurdly Claims Western Civilization Is at Stake

Presidents Donald Trump of the United States and Andrzej Duda of Poland deliver a news conference in Warsaw, July 6
Presidents Donald Trump of the United States and Andrzej Duda of Poland deliver a news conference in Warsaw, July 6 (KPRP/Krzysztof Sitkowski)

Donald Trump has absurdly claimed Western civilization is at stake in the fight against Islamic terrorism, telling Poles, “The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive.”

In a speech in Warsaw, the American president held up Poland as an example of a country that is ready to defend Western values:

As the Polish experience reminds us, the defence of the West ultimately rests not only on means but also on the will of its people to prevail.

Poland’s ruling nationalist party shares Trump’s alarmism about Islam, which is hard to distinguish from xenophobia.

But comparing the country’s historical resistance to Nazism and communism to the present-day War on Terror is misguided. Read more