Don’t Call Your Opponents Traitors

Donald Trump
American president Donald Trump attends a World War I memorial in Suresnes, France, November 11, 2018 (White House/Shealah Craighead)

American president Donald Trump and his supporters have learned one lesson of the Iraq War: To quash legitimate concerns about an ill-advised military operation, call the patriotism of your critics into question.

It sometimes works — but only briefly, and it hurts you more than helps in the end. Read more “Don’t Call Your Opponents Traitors”

Spain’s Response to Catalan Separatism Has Failed

View of the Palau Nacional from downtown Barcelona, Spain, December 29, 2013
View of the Palau Nacional from downtown Barcelona, Spain, December 29, 2013 (CucombreLibre)

Since I moved to Barcelona and started writing about Catalan independence three years ago, I’ve worried that Spain’s refusal to engage with the movement would radicalize it and hollow out the middle in Catalan politics.

This is now borne out by research. Read more “Spain’s Response to Catalan Separatism Has Failed”

Moderates in America Should Not Give Up on Political Reform

Washington DC
View of Washington DC with the United States Capitol in the distance, February 17, 2015 (Matt Popovich)

Regular readers know I believe the two-party system in America is one of the root causes of the country’s many political problems: extreme partisanship (but weak parties), polarization, a politicization of the judiciary and an unwillingness by lawmakers to rein in presidents of their own party, to name the four most urgent.

What are moderates to do? I propose reform.

Ideally, these various changes would break up the Democratic-Republican duopoly. Countries in Northwestern Europe prove that multiparty democracy produces better outcomes. Read more “Moderates in America Should Not Give Up on Political Reform”

What Catalonia Has in Common with the United States

A demonstration for Catalan independence in Perpignan, France, November 10, 2018
A demonstration for Catalan independence in Perpignan, France, November 10, 2018 (ANC)

Asked to judge such dirty tricks as spreading false information about an opponent or removing yard signs, both Democrats and Republicans in the United States are far more forgiving if their own party is to blame — and outraged if such misdeeds are perpetrated by the other side.

Partisanship colors how we interpret events. Catalonia could be another case study. Read more “What Catalonia Has in Common with the United States”

How We Talk About Our Opponents Matters

George Bush Dick Cheney
American president George W. Bush speaks with his vice president, Dick Cheney, at the White House in Washington DC, March 3, 2008 (National Archives)

Remember when George W. Bush was a fascist?

When he signed the PATRIOT Act and launched the Iraq War, reasonable left-wing Americans voiced reasonable objections. The far left reached for Hitler.

Republicans dismissed this as over the top, because it was. (And it made it easier for them to dismiss reasonable objections as well.) So when the real thing came along, and this time not only the far left but commentators on the center-right warned that Donald Trump had a lot in common with the worst leaders in European history, many Republican voters once again shrugged.

If anything, it made them support Trump more. As one voter told The Atlantic in 2016:

Give people the impression that you will hate them the same or nearly so for voting Jeb Bush as compared to voting for Trump and where is the motivation to be socially acceptable with Jeb?

The left continues to make this mistake — and so does the right. Read more “How We Talk About Our Opponents Matters”

Republicans Now Have More in Common with the European Far Right

The skyline of Washington DC at dawn
The skyline of Washington DC at dawn (Shutterstock/Orhan Cam)

Expect plenty of coverage between now and the 2020 election about how Democrats in the United States have moved to the left.

This isn’t wrong. On everything from health care to transgender rights, Democrats have become more left-wing.

But they’re still more centrist than most center-left parties in Europe while Republicans have moved so far to the right that they now have more in common with Austria’s Freedom Party and the Alternative for Germany than they do with Britain’s Conservative Party and Germany’s Christian Democrats. Read more “Republicans Now Have More in Common with the European Far Right”

Spanish Parties Rule Out Centrist Coalition After Election

Spanish party leaders Pedro Sánchez and Albert Rivera speak in Madrid, February 4, 2016
Spanish party leaders Pedro Sánchez and Albert Rivera speak in Madrid, February 4, 2016 (PSOE)

Spain’s liberal Citizens have ruled out a pact with outgoing prime minister Pedro Sánchez while the Catalan branch of his Socialist Party has said it will not support a deal with right-wing parties — making a centrist coalition after the election in April impossible. Read more “Spanish Parties Rule Out Centrist Coalition After Election”

New Figures Argue Democrats Should Target College Graduates in Suburbs

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

Amy Walter reports for The Cook Political Report that a Pew Research assessment of the 2016 electorate belies some of the insights we thought we had gleaned from that year’s exit polls:

  • Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump didn’t actually split the white college-educated vote. Clinton bested Trump by 17 points.
  • They did split the white women’s vote, 45-47 percent. Exit polls suggested Trump was more popular with white women.
  • The exit polls probably overestimated the electorate’s share of white college graduates.

The revised figures argue that Trump hasn’t lost support from college-educated whites and white women. Fewer supported him to begin with.

The exit polls and Pew’s data do agree that Trump has lost support from white voters without a college degree: from 66-64 to 57 percent. Read more “New Figures Argue Democrats Should Target College Graduates in Suburbs”

Midterm Elections Likely to Deepen Blue-Red Divide in America

Night falls on the United States Capitol in Washington DC, December 8, 2011
Night falls on the United States Capitol in Washington DC, December 8, 2011 (Architect of the Capitol)

Ronald Brownstein reports for CNN that the congressional elections in November are likely to deepen the divide between “blue” and “red” America:

Democrats seem likely to emerge … with a clear upper hand in highly urbanized House seats that are racially and religiously diverse, disproportionately white-collar and secular and connected to the globalized information economy. Republicans, in turn, could remain dominant in districts outside of urban centers that are preponderantly white, heavily blue-collar, more religiously traditional and reliant on manufacturing, agriculture and resource extraction.

Read more “Midterm Elections Likely to Deepen Blue-Red Divide in America”

Give America’s Cities the Power They Deserve

View of Columbus Circle in Manhattan, New York at night, December 15, 2007
View of Columbus Circle in Manhattan, New York at night, December 15, 2007 (Thomas Hawk)

Will Wilkinson has another excellent op-ed in The New York Times about the maldistribution of power in the United States between rural and urban areas.

Part of the problem is that America’s federal system gives sparsely populated parts of the country way more power than the cities. That wasn’t such a big problem until the rural-urban divide became partisan. Now the largely white countryside and small towns vote overwhelmingly Republican while multicultural cities elect mostly Democrats. American democracy has been thrown into a crisis of legitimacy and dysfunction as a result.

Our politics is cracking up over the density divide. Big cities and their distinctive interests are suffering a density penalty and need more visibility in our scheme of representation.

Read more “Give America’s Cities the Power They Deserve”