Nationalist Right and Identitarian Left Feed Off Each Other

Germans demonstrate against Chancellor Angela Merkel's immigration policy in Kaiserslautern, January 30, 2016
Germans demonstrate against Chancellor Angela Merkel’s immigration policy in Kaiserslautern, January 30, 2016 (Franz Ferdinand Photography)

Dalibor Rohac of the American Enterprise Institute argues in The American Interest that two intolerant communities have emerged in Western democracies:

  1. A nationalistic right, whose overarching ambition is to return ethnic homogeneity and reverse the decline of status enjoyed by whites.
  2. An identitarian left, whose goal is to rectify the injustices caused by the historic domination of white heterosexual men.

We don’t have to accept a moral equivalence between the two to see that they have things in common.

Nor does either side need to be in the majority (neither is) to pose a danger to our democracy. Read more

A Third Way for Catalonia

View of Barcelona, Spain
View of Barcelona, Spain (Unsplash/Ferran Fusalba)

Catalonia is split down the middle.

In regional elections on Thursday, parties that want to break away from Spain got 47 percent support against 44 percent for those that oppose independence. (The balance going to a party that refuses to take sides.)

These figures are line with the latest government survey, which found almost 49 percent of Catalans in favor of independence and 44 percent opposed.

Clearly neither side has a convincing mandate and with turnout at 82 percent — the highest in living memory — it’s also clear that more voting, whether in the form of a referendum or another election, will not break the deadlock.

There is another way out. Read more

How and Why Americans Switch Parties

Visitors at the de Young museum in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, California, October 16, 2005
Visitors at the de Young museum in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, California, October 16, 2005 (Thomas Hawk)

13 percent of Americans switched parties in the last five years. Economic anxiety had little to do with Democrats changing sides to support Donald Trump.

Those are some of the more surprising findings of the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group. Read more

An Old Conflict in New Form

Opening of the French Estates General at Versailles, May 5, 1789
Opening of the French Estates General at Versailles, May 5, 1789 (Auguste Couder)

I used to think that rise of far-right populism, the crisis of social democracy and growing divides along class and educational lines were creating a new political reality in the West.

In a 2016 report for the consultancy Wikistrat, I argued that the political spectrum was shifting from left-right to cosmopolitan-nationalist.

Others made similar observations:

  • Andrew Sullivan argued in 2014 that America’s blue-red culture war had come to Europe: “Blue Europe is internationalist, globalized, metrosexual, secular, modern, multicultural. Red Europe is noninterventionist, patriotic, more traditional, more sympathetic to faith, more comfortable in a homogeneous society.”
  • Stephan Shakespeare, a British pollsters, observed a year later that people were either “drawbridge up” or “drawbridge down”.
  • The Economist characterized the divide as between open and closed: “Welcome immigrants or keep them out? Open up to foreign trade or protect domestic industries? Embrace cultural change or resist it?”
  • David Goodhart divided people into “anywheres” — mobile and open-minded — and “somewheres” — attached to country, community, family.

I still think this is broadly correct, but now I wonder how new this split really is. Read more

Surely This Is Rock Bottom for Republicans?

The United States Capitol in Washington DC at night, September 18, 2014
The United States Capitol in Washington DC at night, September 18, 2014 (Thomas Hawk)

I thought Republicans hit rock bottom when they elected a president with neither knowledge of nor interest in world affairs, a man who confessed to groping women, mocked a war hero despite himself dodging the Vietnam draft and who disparaged all Mexican immigrants as murders and rapists — but clearly I was wrong.

In Alabama, they have nominated for the Senate a man who was removed as the state’s chief justice for refusing to recognize the supremacy of the law over his own religious beliefs, who perpetuated the racist lie that Barack Obama wasn’t born in the United States, who believes homosexuality should be illegal, that Muslims can’t serve in government and the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks were God’s punishment for America’s heathen ways.

And that’s not even the worst about Roy Moore. Read more

The American Culture Wars Are Officially a Strategic Threat

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gives a speech in Phoenix, Arizona, October 29, 2016
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gives a speech in Phoenix, Arizona, October 29, 2016 (Gage Skidmore)

Donald Trump campaign people are going to jail.

This isn’t quite the fall of the Trumpian house of cards. Paul Manafort’s indictment is very specific to him and his work in Ukraine. More information must come out before we can be certain this will lead to the White House. While the revelations of George Papadopoulos create the strongest link yet, they have not produced an indictment to date.

Yet there is an essential tale here: for the first time in modern American history, a foreign power has substantially interfered with a political campaign. It’s not that others haven’t tried. The Soviet Union tried several times to back favored candidates, especially in the turbulent 1960s and 70s. But in those Cold War cases, American candidates refused the help.

This is the first time it looks like someone said yes.

What changed? Read more

Election Reveals Brexit- and Trump-Like Cleavages in Germany

A far-right demonstration in Leipzig, Germany, September 22
A far-right demonstration in Leipzig, Germany, September 22 (De Havilland)

Germany’s federal election revealed many of the same cleavages we have seen in America, Britain and France, Alexander Roth and Guntram B. Wolff report for the Bruegel think tank:

  • Urban-rural split: Support for the far-right Alternative for Germany party was low in the cities but high in the countryside.
  • Old versus young: Districts with a higher share of elderly voters were more supportive of the Alternative.
  • Education: There is a strong correlation here. The better educated Germans are, the less likely they were to vote for the Alternative.
  • Income: Higher disposable household income is associated with lower support for the Alternative, however, areas with high unemployment were also less likely to vote for the far right. Read more