Brazil is the latest country to lurch toward right-wing nationalism. When Jair Bolsonaro resoundingly defeated his left-wing opponent, Fernando Haddad, in the country’s presidential election last month, news whirled around the world reporting this was Brazil’s Donald Trump.
Bolsonaro is certainly keen to be Trump’s partner in Latin America. But is the comparison apt? And is it helpful to view each new iteration of right-wing nationalism through the Trump prism? Read more
Donald Trump’s Strategy of Tension
Matthew Yglesias argues in Vox that there is method to the right-wing madness in the United States.
The violence, and threats of violence, are the result of a Republican strategy, he argues, to foster a political debate that is centered on divisive questions of personal identity rather than on potentially unifying themes of material advancement.
The downside of this strategy is that it pushes American society to the breaking point. The upside for Republicans is that it facilitates policies that serve the interests of their wealthiest supporters. Read more
Leaders Are Not Their Countries
It’s a tried-and-tested strongman tactic: conflate yourself with the nation to silence your critics. Read more
Don’t Call Them Illiberal Democrats
Michael Meyer-Resende of Democracy Reporting International argues for Carnegie Europe that applying the term “illiberal democracy” or “majoritarianism” to the politics of Hungary and Poland is a misnomer. The ruling parties there are not undermining democracy — by taking control of the (state) media, stacking the courts and rewriting election laws — for the sake of the majority, but rather to maintain their own power. Read more
Trump’s Praise for Dictators Is Rooted in His Own Insecurity
Donald Trump’s flattering comments about Kim Jong-un are shocking but not surprising. They are wholly in line with the American’s authoritarian personality.
In an interview with Fox News’ Bret Baier, who reminded Trump of the appalling human-rights abuses in North Korea, the president praised the young tyrant as a “tough guy”.
When you take over a country, tough country, with tough people, and you take it over from your father, I don’t care who you are, what you are, how much of an advantage you have — if you can do that at 27 years old… I mean, that’s one in 10,000 that could do that. So he is a very smart guy. He is a great negotiator.
Trump Uses Pardon Power to Keep Friends Out of Jail
When Donald Trump pardoned Joe Arpaio last year before the former Arizona sheriff could even be sentenced for criminal contempt of court, I wrote it reminded me of that adage of South American dictators: “For my friends, anything. For my enemies, the law.”
The Rent Is Too High, Partisanship Versus Democracy
Will Wilkinson of the libertarian Niskanen Center tells The Washington Post that expanding affordable housing in America’s major cities is the key to reducing inequality.
Wages have barely budged in decades, yet housing costs have soared due to restrictive zoning and land-use policies. Young and working Americans are now unable to save. Homeowners are getting richer.
Kevin D. Williamson, a conservative columnist who was recently hired and then fired by The Atlantic for his right-wing views (more on that here), has similarly argued in National Review that working-class Americans left behind in the Rust Belt need to move to the coasts. He partly blames them for staying put, but recognizes that policy plays a role.
Consider California, where so many of the jobs in the new economy are. Its housing crisis (you can buy a private island or a castle in Europe for the price of a San Francisco apartment) is entirely man-made, “a result of extraordinarily restrictive zoning and environmental codes and epic NIMBYism of a uniquely Californian variety.”
A Republican Party wishing to renew its prospects in California (which it once dominated) or in American cities could — and should — make affordable housing the centerpiece of its agenda for the cities.
More on why Republicans ought to compete in American cities here. Handelsblatt reports that Berlin fears San Francisco-style housing problems. Read more