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 “The American Culture Wars Are Officially a Strategic Threat”

In City-Country Imbalance, Don’t Focus Only on the Left Behind

View of the Plaça de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain, June 23, 2014
View of the Plaça de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain, June 23, 2014 (Pixabay/Elena Repina)

Janan Ganesh warns in the Financial Times against looking at the city-countryside imbalance exclusively through the lens of the places that have been left behind.

As a moral proposition, this is right, he argues: “the weakest first.” But as a reading of how politics will unfold over time, it could be the wrong way around:

The anger that poor regions feel for the rampant metropolis — that Pas-de-Calais feels for Paris, that Indiana feels for New York — might turn out to weigh less than the grievances that flow in the opposite direction.

City dwellers may at some point decide they have had enough of subsidizing provincials who vote against their heathen ways from a distance. “Call it representation without taxation.” Read more “In City-Country Imbalance, Don’t Focus Only on the Left Behind”

Globalization Boosts Some Regions, Marginalizes Others

The skyline of Chicago, Illinois
The skyline of Chicago, Illinois (Unsplash/Pablo Vargas)

The Economist reports that globalization has marginalized once thriving industrial areas, such as Scranton, Pennsylvania, Teesside in the United Kingdom and France’s Pas-de-Calais.

It is no coincidence that Donald Trump, Brexit and Marine Le Pen got some of their highest vote shares in those regions. Read more “Globalization Boosts Some Regions, Marginalizes Others”

Election Reveals Brexit- and Trump-Like Cleavages in Germany

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

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 “Election Reveals Brexit- and Trump-Like Cleavages in Germany”

Germany’s Social Democrats Should Have Picked Side

German Social Democratic Party leader Martin Schulz makes a speech in Bavaria, March 1
German Social Democratic Party leader Martin Schulz makes a speech in Bavaria, March 1 (Bayern SPD/Joerg Koch)

Germany’s Social Democrats are going the way of the Dutch Labor Party.

Both parties tried to appeal to their working- and middle-class constituents in elections this year and both lost precisely because of this indecision.

Campaigning on liberal immigration laws, social justice and international engagement alienates blue-collar voters.

Campaigning on border controls and deemphasizing identity politics turns away college graduates.

Do both at the same time and you end up with with no supporters at all. Read more “Germany’s Social Democrats Should Have Picked Side”

Germany’s Social Democrats Need to Pick Side in Culture War

German Social Democratic Party leader Martin Schulz makes a speech in Bavaria, March 1
German Social Democratic Party leader Martin Schulz makes a speech in Bavaria, March 1 (Bayern SPD/Joerg Koch)

Social democrats across Europe are caught in the middle of a culture war: they have middle-class voters, many of them university-educated, whose economic and social views range from liberal to progressive, as well as working-class voters, whose views range from the conservative to the nativist.

Germany’s are trying to bridge this divide, but a report by the Financial Times from the heart of the Ruhr industrial area does not suggest they are succeeding.

Guido Reil, a coalminer from Essen and former town councilor for the Social Democrats who switched to the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany, says his old party has “lost its connection to real people.”

They don’t speak their language. They’re people who have never worked, they’re all careerists and professional politicians.

Blue-collar voters — a shrinking demographic — only make up 17 percent of the Social Democrats’ electorate anymore. Read more “Germany’s Social Democrats Need to Pick Side in Culture War”

DUP Pact Makes It Harder for May to Win Back Middle England

British prime minister Theresa May speaks with the American defense secretary James Mattis at Lancaster House in London, England, May 11
British prime minister Theresa May speaks with the American defense secretary James Mattis at Lancaster House in London, England, May 11 (DoD/Jette Carr)

The compromise British prime minister Theresa May has hashed out with Northern Ireland’s unionist party to stay in power could make it even harder for her Conservatives to win back the trust of Middle England.

May didn’t have much of a choice. No other party was willing to prop up her minority government, which is nine seats short in the House of Commons.

But the pact with the hardline Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which hasn’t updated its social views since the 1980s, compounds the mistake May made in calling an early election. Read more “DUP Pact Makes It Harder for May to Win Back Middle England”

The Culture Wars Are Ending. Here’s What’s On the Other Side

Manhattan New York
View of Madison Square Park in Manhattan, New York (Unsplash/Daryan Shamkhali)

In 1967, Timothy Leary told the Human Be-In of San Francisco’s Gate Park to “Turn on, tune in, drop out.” It was a high point for counterculturalism, a crescendo of anti-establishment, anti-centrism that exploded into antiwar protests, race riots, civil rights marches and an definitive end of America’s 1950s cultural high.

It wasn’t the beginning of the twentieth’s century’s culture wars, but it was the point by which it was impossible to ignore they were ongoing. They first stirred somewhere in the 1950s in the backrooms of Beatnik poetry slams and the road warrioring of juvenile delinquents as postwar youth experimented with the edges of their humanity in the safety of a democratic superpower’s economic boom. Read more “The Culture Wars Are Ending. Here’s What’s On the Other Side”

After Landslide, Macron’s Challenge Lies in Forgotten France

French president Emmanuel Macron greets Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy outside the Elysée Palace in Paris, France, June 16
French president Emmanuel Macron greets Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy outside the Elysée Palace in Paris, France, June 16 (La Moncloa)

French president Emmanuel Macron has won a comfortable majority for his centrist party, La République En Marche!, but low turnout points to the difficult task ahead: convincing the less prosperous half of France to give him a chance. Read more “After Landslide, Macron’s Challenge Lies in Forgotten France”