White Backlash Fueled Donald Trump’s Candidacy

Edward Luce has an excellent essay in the Financial Times this weekend about how white working-class backlash in America has propelled Donald Trump’s candidacy.

He cites Carol Anderson, a professor of African American studies and author of White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide, which appeared in May, arguing that the trigger for white rage is inevitably black advancement.

This is the subtext to proclamations like “let’s take our country back” and “make America great again” that can be heard at Trump’s rallies. Read more “White Backlash Fueled Donald Trump’s Candidacy”

Trump Whips Supporters Into Frenzy Over Black Protests

Just when it seemed that Donald Trump would — for once — not exploit an incident of violence, he has come out with characteristic lies and hatemongering.

The Republican kept mum in the days after five police officers were assassinated in Dallas, Texas while protecting a rally against police violence. He was even praised by some for not inserting himself in the national debate about police brutality and making the situation worse.

That’s the bigotry of low expectations: when you expect someone to jump on every tragedy to further his political cause, you are relieved when he doesn’t.

But Trump can’t help himself. Read more “Trump Whips Supporters Into Frenzy Over Black Protests”

EU Referendum Splits Britain Along Blue-Red Lines

British parliament London
Westminster Palace in London, England at night, December 21, 2011 (Ben Sutherland)

The way Britons voted in their EU referendum on Thursday confirms there is a deep “blue-red” divide in the United Kingdom.

I argued in February that the question of whether to leave the European Union or stay was splitting the country along the lines Andrew Sullivan described as Europe’s “blue-red culture war over modernity.”

“Blue Europe,” according Sullivan, is internationalist, metrosexual, multicultural and secular. It is concentrated in the major cities. Hence London’s overwhelming support for “remain”.

“Red Europe” is patriotic, more traditional, more comfortable in a homogenous society, more sympathetic to faith. In England, these are the postindustrial heartlands and small towns. Read more “EU Referendum Splits Britain Along Blue-Red Lines”

England’s Challenge Is Bridging Blue-Red Divide

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

David Marquand, an academic and former parliamentarian for the British Labour Party, argues in the New Statesman that there are two visions of England.

The first he sees represented by the proponents of Britain’s European Union membership. Marquand derides them as the “globetrotting super-rich, the financial services sector, the Bank of England and the managers of the union state.” To them, England consists of London and the more salubrious parts of the southeast. Their answer to the “English question” is that there is no such question.

The notion that the English have to decide who they are and who they want to be is a backward-looking fantasy. Globalization has overwhelmed the specificities of English culture and experience. The English buy and sell in the global marketplace and they face global threats. Membership of an EU made safe for market fundamentalism offers the best available route to security and prosperity in an ever more globalized world.

Marquand is wrong to see this cosmopolitan England as essentially unpatriotic and he is terribly wrong to assume that only bankers and their allies in the Conservative Party could hold such views. But there is some truth to the leftwinger’s caricature. Read more “England’s Challenge Is Bridging Blue-Red Divide”

Referendum Reveals Blue-Red Divide in Netherlands

Rotterdam Netherlands
Rotterdam, the Netherlands at night, September 16, 2015 (Unsplash/Rik van der Kroon)

Wednesday’s referendum in the Netherlands about the European Union’s association agreement with Ukraine is best understood as another battle in the continent’s “blue-red” culture war.

The Atlantic Sentinel has argued that the Dutch “no” had less to do with Ukraine than a general sense that the EU has been making decisions over the heads of ordinary voters — from the proposed EU constitution in 2005, which was rewritten as the Lisbon Treaty after being rejected by voters in the Netherlands and France, to the bailouts of Greece, which a majority of Dutch people opposed.

The outcome on Wednesday was similar to the 2005 referendum. 62 percent voted down the EU constitution then. 61 percent voted against the Ukraine treaty this week.

But the “no” vote was not evenly spread across the country. Read more “Referendum Reveals Blue-Red Divide in Netherlands”

Why Rich, Equal Countries Are More Polarized

Political scientists Torben Iversen and David Soskice have found, to their surprise, that democracies with low inequality, like Denmark and the Netherlands, are politically more polarized than countries that are less equal, such as the United States.

This may surprise observers of American politics and certainly Americans have become more polarized in the last few decades. Their two-party system and an asymmetry between the two parties is probably to blame, as this website has reported. But most Americans still identify as either left- or right-of-center, somewhat liberal or somewhat conservative, and they broadly agree on many policies.

In small European democracies, by contrast, voters on the far left hold diametrically opposing views from voters on the right. Or, more often, voters on both extremes hold starkly different opinions from voters in the middle. Read more “Why Rich, Equal Countries Are More Polarized”

EU Referendum Divides Britain Along Blue-Red Lines

London England
Aerial view of Big Ben and Westminster Abbey in London, England (Unsplash/Ricardo Frantz)

Britain’s EU referendum, which Prime Minister David Cameron said on Saturday will be held in June, is likely to divide the country along the lines of what Andrew Sullivan, a blogger, has called Europe’s “blue-red culture war over modernity.”

“Blue Europe,” according to Sullivan, is “internationalist, globalized, metrosexual, secular, modern, multicultural.” Blue Europeans tend to be better-educated and traveled.

“Red Europe,” by contrast, “is noninterventionist, patriotic, more traditional, more sympathetic to faith, more comfortable in a homogeneous society.” It is less mobile and struggling to maintain its high living standards in an era of rapid economic and social change.

“Mass immigration or migration across Europe,” according Sullivan, has “only made things worse, leading to resentment and racism when it has occurred in already beleaguered working-class Europe. The emergence of an unassimilated Muslim population didn’t help things either.”

This culture war is most pronounced when it comes to immigration.

But the model can be applied to British attitudes about the European Union as well. Read more “EU Referendum Divides Britain Along Blue-Red Lines”

What If America Had a Multiparty Democracy?

United States Capitol model
Scale model of the United States Capitol (Andy Castro)

Leonid Bershidsky raises an interesting question at Bloomberg View: What if America had a multiparty democracy like most countries in Europe?

Based on the outcome of the first presidential voting contest in Iowa this week, Bershidsky imagines the country could five parties: a center-left one led by Hillary Clinton, a far-left one led by Bernie Sanders, a Christian right one led by Ted Cruz, a populist one led by Donald Trump and a center-right, pro-business party led by Marco Rubio.

The two left-wing parties would have a majority, at least in Iowa. Clinton, placing first, would head the government. Sanders, as leader of the second largest party, would get an important cabinet post: say, minister of the economy.

The right-wing parties would go into opposition, but with a reasonable prospect of returning to government in four years. They could either win a majority between the three of them or perhaps Clinton’s and Rubio’s parties would get enough support to form a government of two parties, like the left-right coalitions that rule in Germany and the Netherlands.

As it is, Clinton will probably win the Democratic nomination as well as the presidency. Both Sanders’ supporters and the entire right of the country will feel left out. The latter “will express their discontent in Congress,” writes Bershidsky, “resulting in continued gridlock.” The former won’t have any power at all. Read more “What If America Had a Multiparty Democracy?”

Turkey’s Erdoğan Divides to Conquer

Turks vote on Sunday in a contentious election that is unlikely to change the political map dramatically from the last time they went to the polls.

The most recent election campaign has deepened the polarization of Turkish society, however, to the point where some commentators are fearful of the country’s democracy.

Polls predict President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) will once again fall short of a parliamentary majority. It lost absolute control in June when the left-wing and pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) crossed the 10 percent election threshold for the first time and the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) ate into its conservative heartland support.

Erdoğan, who still leads the AKP despite nominally occupying an apolitical office, had hoped for a mandate to make his an executive presidency and could not accept the election result. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu held pro forma coalition talks with the opposition parties through the summer but Erdoğan had set him up to fail. He refused to allow the AKP to concede any of the important ministries and conditioned a coalition deal on support for his presidential reform plan — which all other parties have dismissed as an power grab.

While calling snap elections, Erdoğan launched an assault on far-left and Kurdish “terrorists” — only some of them genuine — in the process exacerbating the divide between the 40 percent of Turks who still voted for the AKP in June and the rest of the country. The former are mainly ethic Turks and Sunni Muslims living outside the major coastal cities. The opposition includes Turkey’s pro-Western, secular elite, the Kurds and members of religious minorities. Read more “Turkey’s Erdoğan Divides to Conquer”

Freedom Caucus Only One of Republicans’ Problems

Outgoing House speaker John Boehner’s willingness to do a budget deal with America’s ruling Democrats has once again exposed a divide between “establishment” Republicans like him and the purist Freedom Caucus, a Tea Party-backed minority.

But David Wasserman argues at FiveThirtyEight that it isn’t entirely accurate to see the battle in the Republican Party as one between two factions. “It’s more useful to view its members on a spectrum,” he writes. Read more “Freedom Caucus Only One of Republicans’ Problems”