Western politics is polarizing between generally older, rural, traditional and white voters, who are uneasy about the cultural and economic forces reshaping our lives, and younger, urban, secular and racially mixed voters, who welcome these changes. Also see Europe’s blue-red culture war.
Republicans Now Have More in Common with the European Far Right
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
Spanish Parties Rule Out Centrist Coalition After Election
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
Midterm Elections Likely to Deepen Blue-Red Divide in America
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.
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.
Divided America, Deadlock in Italy and Catalan Separatists Try Again
Anand Giridharadas writes in The Huffington Post that “Woke America” and “Great America” are so offended by each other that they can barely listen to each other anymore.
You are what offends you. Are you more offended by racism, sexism and other -isms or by people offended by those things? By the persistence of white privilege or by the term “white privilege”? By all the men who degraded women or by the implication in the air that it was “all” the men? By the original sin of American slavery or by the idea that your country has an original sin — one for which you are somehow responsible?
Giridharadas argues that beneath the anger of both sides lies pain. The only way to bring people together is to take that pain seriously.
I argued something similar in Quillette a few months ago: the only way to change minds is to empathize and explain. The meaning of democracy is not winning 50 percent plus one vote and then vanquishing your rivals. It’s a process. If we want to avoid splitting into parallel societies that don’t understand, much less care about, each other, then we all need to make the effort. Read more