Conservatives Need to Make Capitalism Work for Everyone: Davidson

London England
London, England at night, February 14, 2012 (Warren Chrismas)

It is not inequality that bothers Brits, argues Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Conservative Party leader, in the new online magazine UnHerd. It’s injustice.

People expect that the CEO of a corporation will be the highest paid person on the payroll. What they don’t accept is that FTSE 100 bosses are paid 174 times the average worker’s wage in this decade — compared to 13 to 44 times in 1980.

Especially when many of their companies have received either big fraud-related fines or bailouts from the state.

The distinction matters, because it goes to a broader point. Read more “Conservatives Need to Make Capitalism Work for Everyone: Davidson”

Smart Policies, Wrong Vision from Germany’s Social Democrats

German Social Democratic Party leader Martin Schulz, then president of the European Parliament, watches as Chancellor Angela Merkel signs a guestbook, November 7, 2012
German Social Democratic Party leader Martin Schulz, then president of the European Parliament, watches as Chancellor Angela Merkel signs a guestbook, November 7, 2012 (European Parliament)

Germany’s Social Democrats have unveiled a platform of sensible policies that should appeal to the broad middle of the country’s electorate.

The trouble is the proposals lack a convincing theme and could easily be supported by Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats as well. Read more “Smart Policies, Wrong Vision from Germany’s Social Democrats”

Middle-Income Suburbanites Decided the Election — Again

A street in Charlotte, North Carolina, November 12, 2008
A street in Charlotte, North Carolina, November 12, 2008 (Steve Minor)

On election night, when it was starting to become clear Donald Trump would win, I wrote it had been a mistake to think Hillary Clinton could make up for losing white working-class voters in the “Rust Belt” by drawing more minority and young voters to the polls, particularly in the “Sun Belt” states.

Clinton didn’t win Florida. She didn’t win North Carolina. She didn’t make Arizona and Texas more competitive for Democrats. And she was so unpopular with white voters, especially those without a college degree, that one-time Democratic strongholds in the Northeast — Michigan and Pennsylvania — changed sides.

Looking more closely at what happened on Tuesday, though, I’m not sure this is what doomed her. Read more “Middle-Income Suburbanites Decided the Election — Again”

Obama Gets Economic Challenge Right, Regulations Wrong

Barack Obama Shinzō Abe
American president Barack Obama and Japanese prime minister Shinzō Abe at the White House in Washington DC, April 28, 2015 (White House/Pete Souza)

Reading Bloomberg Businessweek‘s interview with Barack Obama, I get the sense the president understands the big economic and social challenges of our time but still underestimates the impact of regulation on businesses. Read more “Obama Gets Economic Challenge Right, Regulations Wrong”

Middle England Finds Itself Between Blue-Red Divide

Bristol, England
Aerial view of Bristol, England (Shutterstock)

Britain’s European Union referendum is turning into the perfect demonstration of two of the theories I’ve been promoting here about European politics: one, that there is a “blue-red” culture war going on over modernity; and two, that it are reasonable, middle-class voters who hold the balance of power. Read more “Middle England Finds Itself Between Blue-Red Divide”

Middle-Class Americans Need a New Deal

A street in Brooklyn, New York, February 3, 2013
A street in Brooklyn, New York, February 3, 2013 (Thomas Hawk)

When the presidential primary campaign got underway in the United States last year, the Atlantic Sentinel was heartened that Democrats and Republicans were finally talking about the same problem. “Both parties recognize that life has become too hard for Middle America,” we reported at the time.

That was progress from the last presidential election when Republican Mitt Romney infamously dismissed the “47 percent” of Americans who pay no federal income tax as moochers while Democrats spent more time complaining what an out-of-touch plutocrat he was than challenging his laissez-faire policies.

“Whether it is the lack of job security, unaffordable higher education, a health care system that is similarly more expensive than it needs to be or the absence of real wage growth,” we wrote that “the defining question of the next election will likely be how to make life a little easier for those tens of millions of Americans who identify as middle class.”

That was before Donald Trump made the defining question of the next election whether or not America will surrender itself to an ignorant demagogue.

But even Trump, in his own, unhelpful way, is channeling the desperation of millions of Americans who grew up believing they could reach the middle class and didn’t. Read more “Middle-Class Americans Need a New Deal”

Europe’s Social Democrats Can Learn from Canada

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada is interviewed in New York, March 17
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada is interviewed in New York, March 17 (PMO)

The failure of Spain’s Socialist Party to form a government with support from both the far left and social liberals in the political center reflects a broader trend. Across Europe, social democratic parties are struggling.

After the elections in Spain in December left neither the Socialists nor the conservative People’s Party with an absolute majority, the Atlantic Sentinel cautioned the former against entering into a grand coalition. Likeminded parties in Germany and the Netherlands, we pointed out, made just such pacts with the center-right and ended up pleasing no one.

Most disappointed were their voters on the far left, who, polls suggest, have defected to purists, like the Greens in Germany and the Socialist Party in the Netherlands.

But the alternative — social democrat-led alliances with the far left — would have appalled centrists.

Spain’s Socialists wisely decided against a coalition with the anti-establishment movement Podemos. The Social Democrats in Germany have only started cooperating with the formerly-communist Die Linke at the local and state level in the last few years. A federal coalition between the two is still unlikely.

More fundamentally, the center-left’s dilemma stems from the fact that what Andrew Sullivan, a British blogger, has called Europe’s red-blue culture war over modernity is playing out inside these traditional workers’ parties. Read more “Europe’s Social Democrats Can Learn from Canada”

Democrats Resist Weakening Decades-Old Social Model

Democrats in the United States are deluding themselves and their voters if they vow to resist changes in the economy over which politicians have little control.

From their doubts about a transpacific trade pact to fights against flexible labor relations, Democrats are showing themselves to be uncomfortable with many of the tenets of globalization that have redefined the world economy since the 1980s. Read more “Democrats Resist Weakening Decades-Old Social Model”

Republicans Need to Be the Party of the Middle Class

Aerial view of a suburb of Austin, Texas
Aerial view of a suburb of Austin, Texas (Shutterstock/Roschetzky Photography)

Middle-class Americans — defined as those with college, but not a postgraduate, degrees and household incomes between $50,000 and $100,000 per year — are a growing segment of the voting population and increasingly decide the outcome of national elections. Their interests suggest they should vote Republican but the right’s rhetoric is pushing some into the Democrats’ arms.

Both parties have their relatively reliable voting blocs. Democrats have been able to attract enough young and minority voters to make up for a shrinking white working-class electorate. Blue-collar voters with low-income service jobs have increasingly leaned Republican.

Both trends appear to have accelerated in recent years: the 2008 election of Barack Obama saw a high number of young and minority voters turn out while more white working-class voters shifted to the Republican Party in subsequent elections.

If these movements cancel each other out, it are middle-class Americans who represent the swing vote. Read more “Republicans Need to Be the Party of the Middle Class”