At a time of political polarization and upheaval in the West, the Atlantic Sentinel believes that the center can hold. It are not the fanatics on either side who decide elections; it are reasonable people in the middle. Better to muddle through than to veer to extremes.
Merkel’s Answer to Populist Challenge: Shift to the Left
The headline-grapping news from Germany this weekend was the return of the far right, which won back seats in the national parliament for the first time since 1961.
But the bigger — and more reassuring — story of the election was the fragmentation of the German political landscape.
The Christian Democrats and Social Democrats, once faraway the two largest parties, won only 56 percent of the seats combined. A record seven parties (counting the Bavarian Christian Social Union separately) crossed the 5-percent election threshold. Four parties will probably be needed to form a coalition government — another first in postwar German history.
This might look like instability at first, but it actually underscores the resilience of multiparty democracy. Read more
Democrats Should Campaign for Dutch-Style Health Reforms
The other day, I explained that the reason Americans can’t get a European-style health-care system is not opposition from insurance companies but the fears of 155 million Americans who currently get health insurance through their employers. They worry that a single-payer system, like Britain’s, would mean higher taxes and lower-quality care.
Such fears — largely unfounded — would undoubtedly be amplified by drug companies, health providers and insurance companies if the Democrats campaigned for “Medicare for all”.
So instead of having an abstract, and probably pointless, debate about which health-care system is superior, why not look at what advocates of single-payer hope to achieve and see if this can’t be done without eliminating private insurance? Read more
Don’t Force Catalans to Choose Between Independence and the Status Quo
Last night I wrote that time is running out to avoid a constitutional crisis in Spain. The Catalans are determined to hold an independence referendum in October; the central government in Madrid is determined to prevent one.
This seems to be a case of an unstoppable force meeting an unmovable object, but there may still be a way out. Read more
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.
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
Dutch Liberal, Christian Parties Start Talks to Form Government
Parties in the Netherlands have asked former finance minister Gerrit Zalm to lead negotiations for forming a government, signaling their seriousness to do a deal before the start of the fiscal year in September. Read more