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Looking Back on a Year of Eclipse for the Left

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The end of 2012 was a heady time for the American left, full of self-flattering eschatology and pronouncements of political manifest destiny. Mitt Romney had just lost and spirits were high. The Republican Party is dead, declared endless pundits, done in by changing demographics and its decision following the Bush administration to radicalize rather than moderate. From here on out it would be all sunny uplands for Democrats, as the incandescent Barack Obama ascended to his second term and the fractious Republican Congress numbered its days.

The mistake there was an old one, hubris, and the political gods soon exacted their punishment. Two years later, Republicans were returned to Congress, and four years later, Donald Trump, a walking amalgamation of liberal nightmares, was elected president of the United States. Warnings that a younger and browner electorate would doom the GOP dissolved into the ether. Not only had the right won, they’d done so by becoming more populist rather than less; not only was their populism successful in America, it was submerging governments across the globe, as Britain voted to leave the European Union and third-party nationalists gained unprecedented ground across continental Europe. Far from those bright peaks, the left awoke to a 2017 more hostile to its values than at any time since at least the 1980s. Now, as the year draws to an end, it’s worth taking stock of the ongoing damage.

First over to Chile, of all places, long a source of anti-right-wing foment thanks to lingering memories of Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship. There, the conservative billionaire Sebastián Piñera has just won a presidential runoff, spoiling 26 years of, except for one previous Piñera term, uninterrupted left-wing rule. Also ascendant are Michael Temer and Mauricio Macri of Brazil and Argentina respectively, two regional power centers that until recently were governed by socialists. As the New York Times [2] points out [2], the only prominent left-wing regimes still standing in South America are in Bolivia and Venezuela, both of which have had to use autocratic methods to cement their authority. Latin America, once an iron stronghold of socialism thanks to economic inequality and irritation over United States meddling, has seen its erstwhile reformers grow fat, enervated, and corrupt, to the right’s benefit.

Over now to Austria where the center-right People’s Party has just forged a new governing coalition with the populist Freedom Party, which secured a third of the Austrian vote in October’s elections. Head northwards to Poland and you find the ruling Law and Justice party, whose purported affronts to liberalism have invoked the wrath of the European Union. Also earning the EU’s reproach has been Hungary’s Viktor Orbán, who has openly declared his support for an “illiberal state.” And even in Germany, supposedly the neoliberal anode to Russia’s authoritarian cathode, elections this year saw the Social Democrats throttled, Angela Merkel returned to power, and the populist Alternative for Germany introduced into the Bundestag as the third-largest party in German federal politics.

In the Netherlands, populist and aspiring Lannister Geert Wilders is calling for a Trump-style Muslim travel ban in Europe; his is, numerically at least, the voice of opposition in the Dutch parliament after the socialists were wiped out in elections earlier this year. In France, Marine Le Pen has been vanquished for now, but only after a similar anti-socialist culling that cleared the decks for Emmanuel Macron, a modernizer and economic liberalizer vastly removed from France’s dirigisme tradition. In Spain, the ruling conservative People’s Party recently squashed progressive idealism over a potentially independent Catalonia (though December’s elections show the Catalans remain defiant). And in Britain, despite a recent groundswell under far-left Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, power is still divided between Conservatives intent on leaving the European Union with a trade deal and Conservatives okay absconding without one.

That’s a very inexact whirlwind tour, one that omits some other center-right electoral successes (Australia) as well as some admitted center-left ones (Canada, New Zealand, Sweden). It also applies the term “right” rather broadly to include parties that are united more in their anti-leftism than anything else: nationalists, populists, traditionalists, capitalists, ideologues, pragmatists, and so on. Also true is that the new right’s successes have coincided with it thieving from the left, as with Donald Trump who adopted more traditionally Democratic positions on health care and trade, and Angela Merkel who at times makes noises that are indistinguishable from her socialist counterparts. This ideological messiness has led to plenty of right-wing family feuds. In Europe, that’s meant insurgent populist parties divorced from established center-right ones; in the United States it’s meant Republican governance that sometimes seems like an endless exercise in fraternal cannibalism.

Still, it’s remarkable how hard declared left-wing parties have cratered—and during a recession, of all times, when their haves-versus-have-nots rhetoric and exuberance for the welfare state should be resonating. What’s gone wrong here? At least two things, I think, both of them acts of severance. The first has been the bifurcation of “Liberal Democracy” (as opposed to “liberal democracy,” which is a perfectly good political science term). In today’s world, and especially in the droning speeches of sallow-faced European Union MEPs, Liberal Democracy has come to include certain very modern values not necessarily associated with the original doctrines of liberalism, including mass immigration, sprawling free trade agreements, the consolidation of power into supranational institutions, and activist foreign policies. The unspoken assumption is that the Liberal plank and the Democracy plank are yin and yang complements: the downtrodden many will outvote the gilded few and then enact the Liberal program. But why should they? And what happens when voters use their democratic rights in pursuit of ends that elites regard as illiberal? That’s what’s happening today especially in Europe, and the left doesn’t seem to know how to react.

change_me

The second reason has to do with those aforementioned demographics. Among interest-group liberalism’s many delegations—feminists, African Americans, environmentalists—are metropolitan elites and blue-collar workers. Seemingly unalike, the tether that stretches between them is economics, with metropolitan elites designing welfare schemes and workers benefitting from them. The problem is that, contra its devotees, economics can’t explain everything, and the American labor force is a bit more than just a cluster of points on a GDP graph. Workers have values, beliefs, conceptions of what their nation should look like, that often radically diverge from those held by Washingtonians and New Yorkers. These more cultural concerns have engendered a deep distrust of the elite left, which, combined with the perception that economic interventions by the state haven’t done much good lately, have sent much of the white working class into the arms of right-wing populists who promise to fight for their nations and values. This severing of the left’s blue collars and white collars may be survivable in the long run, as America’s industrial heyday fades into mist. But it was the Rust Belt going red that lost Democrats the last election, and that trend could continue to tip the balance against them.

These are large problems that aren’t going to be worked out even by repeatedly screaming “RUSSIA!” at passing cars. There are other, more local factors at work here, too, from an economy in need of unshackling in France to the growing staleness of once-iconoclastic Latin American socialism. But this is nonetheless a worldwide phenomenon, and a wake-up call to a left that’s smugly assumed modernity and its own dominance would be synonymous. Voters will eventually check the right, too, as polls here in America portend an anti-GOP mood ahead of the 2018 midterms. But the left’s state of continuing crisis is too fundamental and complex to be resolved by a single election, a single policy manifesto, even a single former vice president-turned-political savior.

Matt Purple is the managing editor of The American Conservative.

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39 Comments (Open | Close)

39 Comments To "Looking Back on a Year of Eclipse for the Left"

#1 Comment By DancerGirl On December 29, 2017 @ 1:22 am

But it was the Rust Belt going red that lost Democrats the last election, and that trend could continue to tip the balance against them.

I won’t comment on leftist parties outside of the US, but here, before you draft our obituary, consider a few things.

1) We are running infinitely better in deep red districts than we truly have any business doing.

2) Ralph Northam won his election going away.

3) Metaphorically speaking, of course, we simply stole a seat in Alabama, for the ever-gracious-love-of-God, because the GOP can’t figure out if it’s the Party of Lincoln or the Party of Trump.

4) His approval rating in the Rust Belt is not where he might want it to be. We have a one-time event with the 2016 election; we do not have a trend. And I’ll tell you what: as his administration moves to kneecap unions, the members who broke for him will notice, and a reasonable number will feel betrayed.

No doubt, we’re in trouble. The GOP’s total control of Congress and its hold on state governments objectively attests to that fact. But do not under-estimate the lack of regard in which voters hold both Donald Trump and the GOP, especially while watching the party roll over and play fetch for him.

The Democrats cannot run on anti-Trump sentiment alone. But given the depth of both the rage and the sincerity of the contempt, it provides a viable starting point of commonality from which we can persuasively pivot and move forward.

#2 Comment By Robert E. On December 29, 2017 @ 1:44 am

As a liberal I have to say… yeah, that’s a pretty fair assessment of the whole situation.

Liberals across the world desperately need new ideas. It is difficult to see Corbyn or Bernie as the future of leftism when the only new thing they add to their old ideas is a sense of earnestness lacking in today’s political figures (The same being true of the more moderately liberal Biden, who still fundamentally has no new ideas).

The right was able to be so agile and successful this year partially because they were innovative in ways they haven’t been in the past. Traditionalist right successes were more of an outlier when it comes to the successes on the right you mentioned. For the most part, the right-wing parties ideological agility allowed them to do things such position themselves as -defenders- of LGTB people against Muslim radicalism, which was a radical reversal of the previous role of right-wing parties. Even if it wasn’t a very honest claim, it was an incredibly effective rhetorical argument that was only able to be made by jettisoning religious traditionalism. The American right was energized by what seemed to be a wholesale rejection of the Reaganism of old, another tradition down the drain. Traditionalism in government procedure and electoral strategy was abandoned as well.

If someone considers themselves “right-wing”, then perhaps there is a lot to feel triumphant about, but for conservatives, I imagine they should feel the eclipse just as much as the left.

#3 Comment By Kent On December 29, 2017 @ 6:22 am

I think if you reread this article carefully, it is saying the “right” is ascendent because it has adopted some leftist policies, and the “left” is in trouble because it has adopted some rightist policies.

Even though I am a Republican, I probably would have voted for Bernie over the Donald. If only because Bernie was likely competent to implement some responsible changes, and is certainly a respectable person regardless of policies.

Other than her pro-identity politics position, Hillary was certainly more conservative in almost all respects to her Republican competitors, especially fiscally.

#4 Comment By Michael Kenny On December 29, 2017 @ 9:46 am

This sounds to me like the sour grapes of defeat. And, of course, the principal target is the EU. There’s hardly much point in going into the details. It’s just the standard American anti-EU smear that we’ve been hearing for the last 45 years. One point though: could Mr Purple explain what he thinks causes MEPs to be “sallow-faced”? I can’t say I’d noticed any difference in complexion between our MEPs and the rest of the European population.

#5 Comment By libertarian jerry On December 29, 2017 @ 9:56 am

n America why should the left worry? They have gotten all of their Basic ideas put into law decades ago. The Income Tax,Inheritance Tax,Central Banking,Fiat currency,the large Administrative State, the Welfare State in essence all 10 Planks to the Communist Manifesto. Will the so called Right,when in power,dismantle any of these government entities? I doubt it. The “me too” Republicans may modify or try to reform the system,but the system basically stays in place. The government grows and,at the same time,our liberties diminish. Its the old adage,”the more things change the more they stay the same.”

#6 Comment By Mark Thomason On December 29, 2017 @ 10:04 am

Obama was not “left.” Hillary is a right wing war monger, purveyor of neo-liberal right wing economic thinking too.

The left was losing long before the time addressed here. It lost so much, right wing ideas are called “the left.”

#7 Comment By Slugger On December 29, 2017 @ 10:11 am

Strange metaphor. Eclipses are inherently transitory.

#8 Comment By tz On December 29, 2017 @ 11:11 am

It is simpler than that.
The Left sold its soul. Bernie was at least a socialist, but the DNC did to him what Romney had the RNC do to Ron Paul.
Obama promised to close GITMO but didn’t – and it sounds small but promises are remembered as Trump detractors are finding out with the Embassy move.
Meanwhile, Obama voted for TARP, and we watched as the financial engineers that destroy jobs on wall street got richer, Hillary broke the law with her server, her foundation, and more and nothing happened. She turned Libya into another failed state.

But Hillary – the vending machine puppet of the wealthy elite – had to be the nominee.

Can you name even one policy she stood on? Not abstract like “LGBTQ rights”. Even Trumps MAGA came with a list of action items like exiting bad trade deals and building a wall.

The Democrats are merely a coalition of corrupt crony elites that says they are for blacks, hispanics, illegal aliens, jews (sometimes), feminists, gays, transgender…

8 years of Obama and black mayoral rule, how are Baltimore, Detroit and Chicago doing? But they are courageously taking down statues of General Lee! The two states that represent the blue rule are technically bankrupt: California and Illinois.

The Democrats: We love you identity minority! Vote for us! We’ll give you privilege and welfare. But do nothing about Big Tech and Wall Street that give us all our cash.

Jeb! (please clap) was merely Hillary light – I love all you too! But Trump remembered the America that was great and has a vision. And that vision is what is remaking the GOP. Not the good little loser globalists of Conservative Inc. But Reagan, or even JFK and Eisenhower.

A vision – even a socialist pipe dream – trumps nothing

#9 Comment By b. On December 29, 2017 @ 11:37 am

The hilarious idea that the Democratic Party is in any meaningful sense of the word “left” distracts from the confusion of what “Liberal” actually means. Why, in their willingness to abdrige the First Amendment in service of BDS prevention, the “rank” of the Democratic Party isn’t even democratic. But then, the Republicans appear to be increasingly uneasy with the concept of a Republic, so the duopoly con can continue. Go Purple!

#10 Comment By SteveK9 On December 29, 2017 @ 11:57 am

Dancer Girl: ‘But do not under-estimate the lack of regard in which voters hold both Donald Trump and the GOP’.

You may be underestimating the lack of regard voters have for the Democratic Party … especially the party of Hillary Clinton.

Sadly, neither political party represents the interests of the vast majority of the American people. Democrats and Republicans are ruled by America’s oligarchs, who have one interest … money and power for themselves, gained mostly through the mechanism of continuous war.

#11 Comment By Ken T On December 29, 2017 @ 12:02 pm

Ho hum. Another tired attempt to draw parallels between American liberalism and what the rest of the world sees as “the left”. There is no political movement in the US that anyone in Europe or South America would call “leftist”. All the true leftists in the US could get together and hold a convention around a table at the local McDonalds. The core of the Democratic Party establishment occupies approximately the same segment of the political spectrum as what the rest of the world would call “center-right”, with a long tail (mostly out of power, though that might be changing now) extending over to the “center-left”. The simple fact is that our political divisions are different than the rest of the world, so attempting to apply what is happening elsewhere to our politics is an exercise in futility.

#12 Comment By LouisM On December 29, 2017 @ 12:11 pm

Europe and California have the answers to the questions posed in this article.

There are over a billion people in China, India, Islamic World and Africa all living well below European, Canadian, Australian/New Zealand and even portions of South America. Many without freedoms too. The wealthy nations in the Islamic world like UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, etc wont take immigrants, refugees or migrants. So they go to the west.

There are a couple factors at play in Europe. Some do not involve race/ethnicity and some do. The issues that DO NOT involve race/ethnicity are that ethnic Europeans are living with cuts / elimination of services because immigrants, migrants, refugees are consuming them. All ethnic Europeans are facing long waiting lines for medical and dental, losing their housing, etc. Many ethnic Europeans are now living in the streets while immigrants with 6 kids and don’t work get a 6 bedroom home and if they don’t then they cry racism. For those immigrants who do work, they cut the wages for ethnic Europeans. So you can live in an expensive European city if your rich or if your an immigrant on govt services. If your an ethnic European, then your services are cut off or rationed and your either homeless or forced out to live in the suburbs or country (but at the hundreds of thousands of immigrants…even small towns are becoming over-populated with immigrants). In these cases, they don’t hate them because of their race/ethnicity but because there are simply too many of them. The ethnic Europeans will continue to the right for less immigration, more jobs and an end to rationing of services.

The factors that do involve race/ethnicity of immigrants have to do with gypsy’s (roma) who make their living thru theft and robbery, Islamic terrorism, Islamic Shariah (honor killings, acid attacks, rapes, slaves, etc), the constant accusations of islamophobia, the nogo zones and demands for a state within a state for Islamic law to replace European law and the imams who say Europeans are below replacement level and allah will out populate them until Europeans are powerless minorities in their own nation. This is also pushing people to the right.

Now we get to the Californization (Illinoization, etc) here in the US which parallels the left in Europe. Few US states have a huge European socialism / leftist buracracy and open borders and generous social services for illegals as California. However, everyday more an more leftist cities in California, Illinois, etc are going bankrupt. They cannot meet their pension obligations, they cannot meet their state portion for social services to the poor and the immigrant class, etc. In California the state is returning to desert because of its incompetent land use practices that favor huge megacities over inland towns and farming communities and forests. In California, the housing is being bid to Asian pricing levels because zoning prevents new builds and because Asians are exporting their money from Chinese real estate/debt bubbles. In California, the infrastructure is decaying to 3rd world levels. New freeways have not been built in a half century. There is no money to upgrade freeways, water and sewar mains, municipal waste, etc but California does have money for a multibillion dollar high speed rail. In other words, all the money and laws are to favor the urban elites not the poor or the middle class or the working class. This trend will not stop people shifting to the left.

The last and I believe the biggest reason why Trump and Trump style politicians will get stronger even in Europe is the culture war. Trump enjoys waving the red cape in front of the left when it comes to their shibboleths. Trump enjoys total disregard for politically correct speech. In Europe people can be ostracized and lose their jobs, their homes, their friends, their place in the community by being politically incorrect like criticizing immigration or govt policies. People are starting to revolt and it is the left that is driving people to the right.

Nationalism is not fascism. Nationalism is the as the new urban planning models that go back to preWWII car dependent freeways and zoning. Nationalism is the buy local farmers markets (meats, dairy, produce, etc). Nationalism is your rural community, your small town, your suburb, your Main Street USA. THE RIGHT IN THE USA HAS ALREADY SHOWN NATIONALISM WINS ELECTIONS BUT THE LEFT HAS NOT FOUND NATIONALISM BECAUSE THEY THINK ITS FASCISM. WHAT THE LEFT DOESNT SEE IS THAT LEFTIST RADICAL GROUPS AND LEFTIST POLICIES ARE UNAFFORDABLE AND FASCISTIC AND UNQUESTIONABLE (BOTH BECAUSE POLITICAL CORRECTNESS LIMITS THE ABILITY OF PEOPLE TO QUESTION LEFTIST PRACTICES AND BECAUSE LEFTIST PRACTICES ARE NOT BASED ON FACTS).

#13 Comment By Paul De Palma On December 29, 2017 @ 12:26 pm

“from an economy in need of unshackling in France”

To do what? To produce the same emptiness we experience daily in the US? It is exactly the liberal–in the classical sense–unshackling of economies that delivered wealth for the wealthy and wage stagnation for the rest. TAC is so good about foolish military intervention and so uninspired about much else.

#14 Comment By David Nash On December 29, 2017 @ 12:41 pm

A strange article.

It excoriates the Left for hubris after 2012, and exemplifies Right hubris after 2016.

Government in America suffers, not from Left or Right delusions, but from an electorate which can’t decide from what form of schizophrenia it suffers. Truly a Drunken Master.

#15 Comment By EliteCommInc. On December 29, 2017 @ 1:14 pm

This is a good reminder and good for a laugh.

Just when it seems the opposing party is out for the count or on their way down, the party in power trips over themselves to prevent their fall.

Because Pres Trump holds so many liberal positions, the way forward will be interesting. I keep wondering how long before liberals understand that the current Pres. is more like them than he is a conservative. And the Republican party as it has become is more like democrats than it is traditional republican or miles from being conservative.

#16 Comment By DGJ On December 29, 2017 @ 2:31 pm

Sorry Matt you’re going to look pretty silly in 2019, with Speaker of the House Keith Ellison, Prime Minister Jermey Corbyn, and Senate Majority Leader Elizabeth Warren around. This sounds dangerously close to wishful thinking.

#17 Comment By mf On December 29, 2017 @ 3:27 pm

you are terminally confused, my friend. Terminally. Right up there with “the end of History”

The right wing project is running it’s course and it has done so much damage that it has finally slid into outright fascism, otherwise known as Donald Trump. The result will be a sharp turn to the left. Trump, being the con man that he is, lied his way into office. He barely won with an unpopular Democratic candidate, and only through the Electoral College. He will make a royal mess and outrage the swing vote that (barely) voted for him.

The real, actual problem in the US ,and in the Western world, is not enough left. The Democratic Party is not the left, but Center Right. The Republican Party, as I said before, has become an extreme right party which has finally slid into outright fascism. Trump tapped into the vote of the dispossessed, but now he is busily spitting in their faces and showing them beyond doubt that he has them for nothing, to be used by his Royal Self. The backlash will be epic.

#18 Comment By balconesfault On December 29, 2017 @ 3:27 pm

When I look at polling on issues that people think signify the left/right divide (most recent poll available on PollingReport for each issue):

CNN Poll conducted by SSRS. Dec. 14-17, 2017.
“Overall, do you favor or oppose the tax reform proposals made by the Republicans in Congress?”
Favor 33%
Oppose 55%

Quinnipiac University Poll. Dec. 6-11, 2017.
“Do you support or oppose building a wall along the border with Mexico?”
Support 36%
Oppose 62%

Quinnipiac University. Nov. 7-13, 2017.
“Do you support or oppose stricter gun laws in the United States?”
Support 60%
Oppose 36%

NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll. Nov. 13-15, 2017.
“Which one of the following comes closest to your opinion about what Congress should do with the Affordable Care Act known as Obamacare?”
Let it stand 19%
Change it so it does more 41%
Change it so it does less 7%
Repeal it completely 28%

Quinnipiac University. Sept. 21-26, 2017.
“Do you think that the U.S. should remain a part of the Paris Accord, which is an international agreement to prevent climate change, or do you think the U.S. should withdraw from the Paris Accord?”
Remain 60%
Withdraw 30%

Quinnipiac University Poll. Dec. 6-11, 2017.
“Do you think abortion should be:”
Legal in all cases 21%
Legal in most cases 39%
Illegal in most cases 22%
Illegal in all cases 12%

#19 Comment By Tony D. On December 29, 2017 @ 4:28 pm

The left was losing long before the time addressed here. It lost so much, right wing ideas are called “the left.”

With Exhibit 1 probably being the Heritage Foundation-hatched scheme now known as the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act.

Also, Max Boot and Jonah Goldberg, among others, are finally “outing” themselves as the Hillary Clinton Democrats they’ve been all along!

#20 Comment By johnhenry On December 29, 2017 @ 4:34 pm

“2017: The Year the Left Went Into Eclipse”

Good. Let’s hope this article is not just Purple Prose”.

I’ll get my coat 🙂

#21 Comment By johnhenry On December 29, 2017 @ 4:58 pm

Slugger @ 10:11: You’re probably right, albeit pedantic. But what about a thick asteroid belt in a galaxy far,far away that might permanently – or for a very long time – block most starlight reaching a planet? Not exactly a halo, but still an eclipse

#22 Comment By Youknowho On December 29, 2017 @ 5:05 pm

The Left has been down before. It has been up.

Now it is down…. It will be up again.

Spinning wheel..

#23 Comment By Arimathean On December 29, 2017 @ 7:33 pm

The so-called “right” has won by accepting the left’s new rules: everything is always about identity politics. Obama spent eight years fomenting and exploiting race and class divisions, and Trump employed judo to turn those race and class divisions against the left. So now we are left with two parties that are trying to out-do each other in dividing Americans against each other. As a great Republican once said, paraphrasing Mark 3:25, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

#24 Comment By brians On December 30, 2017 @ 6:39 am

We need a renewal of left wing conservatism, of the Christian Democratic tradition. Let’s read up on our Lasch and Orwell, and pray for a McGovern to come along.

#25 Comment By mf On December 30, 2017 @ 9:34 am

you censor, don’t you?

#26 Comment By Cstahnke On December 30, 2017 @ 9:57 am

In Europe even the right wing parties favor a socialism-lite so the decline of the left there is partly a function of immigration. The US is different Because we don’t have a left wing party other than the Greens and since they are in the category of a “third party” they are outside the System and therefore outside the consideration of the mainstream media that is vaguely liberal culturally but solidly conservative in terms war and peace and pro-corporate in domestic affairs only slightly less so to capture the leftist voters who, as always, have no place to go since they like their more conservative fellow citizens are easily led by the nose by a mainstream Narrative that is nothing more than a virtual Ministry of Truth. Whenever people are polled as to what they actually want Congress to do it is often leftist in spirit and as has been proven by a Princeton study a few years ago that shows Congress pays no attention to what ordinary people want but March to the drum of the oligarch class only. The Democratic Party was once slightly center-left but is now neither left, right, or even center it is merely corrupt and for sale.

#27 Comment By Ken T On December 30, 2017 @ 12:57 pm

Elite:
I keep wondering how long before liberals understand that the current Pres. is more like them than he is a conservative.

I will certainly agree with you that there is nothing remotely conservative about Trump. But there is nothing remotely liberal either. Either position requires some awareness of the world outside the person’s own skull. Trump possesses no such awareness.

#28 Comment By let our peoples go On December 30, 2017 @ 5:59 pm

“As a great Republican once said, paraphrasing Mark 3:25, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.””

And that’s just as well. I want no part of the house we’ve been building the past couple of decades.

#29 Comment By Thrice A Viking On December 30, 2017 @ 6:29 pm

Cstahnke, we have more than just the Greens for left-wing parties. Two that I know of: Socialist Labor and Socialist Workers, and there are undoubtedly others. Granted, they have little electoral weight (I believe the latter elected one of theirs to the Seattle city council, however). But then, what power do the Greens have except as a possible spoiler, as in 2000?

#30 Comment By John B On December 31, 2017 @ 1:18 pm

These populist newcomers to the right you’re lauding: as you say they’ve borrowed heavily from the left in terms of economic policies (suggesting the public may have little appetite left for fiscal conservatism) and they’ve retained from the right mostly more extreme nativist, anti-immigrant, ethnic nationalist stances. How is this something to celebrate? The worst of both surely!?

#31 Comment By cka2nd On December 31, 2017 @ 1:34 pm

Kent says: “I think if you reread this article carefully, it is saying the ‘right’ is ascendent [sic] because it has adopted some leftist policies, and the ‘left’ is in trouble because it has adopted some rightist policies.”

Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Bingo!!!

Kent says: “Even though I am a Republican, I probably would have voted for Bernie over the Donald. If only because Bernie was likely competent to implement some responsible changes, and is certainly a respectable person regardless of policies.”

“Responsible” and politically popular among everyone but the super rich and the 1000% free market true believers.

Kent says: “Other than her pro-identity politics position, Hillary was certainly more conservative in almost all respects to her Republican competitors, especially fiscally.

Well, she probably would have appointed decent folk to the NLRB and other regulatory agencies, and her judicial picks would have all been within 10 or 20 degrees left or right of the center – a somewhat liberal academic here, an ex-prosecutor there – but even domestically, the good appointments would be counter-balanced by terrible fiscal and environmental policies wherever she could get away with them.

#32 Comment By cka2nd On December 31, 2017 @ 1:45 pm

tz says: “8 years of Obama and black mayoral rule, how are Baltimore, Detroit and Chicago doing? But they are courageously taking down statues of General Lee! The two states that represent the blue rule are technically bankrupt: California and Illinois.”

Um, Harold Washington died 20 years ago and Chicago hasn’t had a black mayor since his successor, Eugene Sawyer, lost the 1989 election to Richard M. Daley. And Detroit’s main problem hasn’t been either white flight or black mayors, it’s been the auto companies moving manufacturing out of town. I imagine the story is similar with Baltimore, especially if “The Wire” is any guide, and Kurt Schmoke has some fans on the right for his support for both drug decriminalization (Yay!) and school vouchers (Boo!).

#33 Comment By cka2nd On December 31, 2017 @ 1:52 pm

Cstahnke says: “In Europe even the right wing parties favor a socialism-lite so the decline of the left there is partly a function of immigration.”

No, it’s largely a function of the social democratic left moving to the right on economic, trade and fiscal issues over the last 30 years, essentially abandoning the working class and the young to the depredations of the banks, financial markets and industrial magnates.

#34 Comment By cka2nd On December 31, 2017 @ 2:00 pm

Arimathean says: “Obama spent eight years fomenting and exploiting race and class divisions…”

“Sigh!” Obama spent eight years lecturing and hectoring the black community. Aside from the ACA, which is primarily designed to ensure the long-term profitability of the insurance companies, he did nothing to improve the standard of living of black folk or anyone else outside of the wealthy. He certainly didn’t make whole any of the people who lost most or all of their wealth in the Great Recession, and it is a plain fact that black people had less to lose than white people on average and so lost a larger percentage of their wealth on average.

Class war is an ongoing fact of class society, and the working class has been on the losing side of the class war in this country since 1981, at least.

#35 Comment By collin On January 1, 2018 @ 12:51 pm

This seems to be a rather smug conservative article on the victories of conservative candidates across the globe and especially of Trump who is not popular at all. (And it exaggerates the Republican Party losses in 2012 in which Romney was not a strong candidate, there was Akins rape theories and Rs still had the House and most governor mansions.)

If Obama did not do enough to work with conservatives in his terms, Donald Trump is doubling down not working with Democrats so far and it could cost him at the ballot box.

#36 Comment By William M. On January 1, 2018 @ 9:15 pm

In regards to the center-left “winning” in New Zealand, two things need to be noted:

1) The biggest party in Parliament is National, the center-right party, which beat Labour by about ten percentage points in the last election. The government led by Labour is a coalition government, with two other parties. This leads to my next point, which is:

2) The primary coalition partner is a party called “New Zealand First”, which is precisely what it sounds like (xenophobic nationalist). The only reason they don’t get called far right in New Zealand is because here the political axis is defined solely by economic policy and NZF is in favor of a very generous welfare state (for natives). As it is, Labour wound up adopting anti-immigrant rhetoric in the lead up to the election (and they have always been anti-free trade).

The take-away lesson here is that a simple Left-Right axis is incapable of describing politics on a global scale (even if it tends to work fairly well within countries).

#37 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On January 4, 2018 @ 11:04 am

2) The primary coalition partner is a party called “New Zealand First”, which is precisely what it sounds like (xenophobic nationalist). The only reason they don’t get called far right in New Zealand is because here the political axis is defined solely by economic policy and NZF is in favor of a very generous welfare state (for natives). As it is, Labour wound up adopting anti-immigrant rhetoric in the lead up to the election (and they have always been anti-free trade).

The take-away lesson here is that a simple Left-Right axis is incapable of describing politics on a global scale (even if it tends to work fairly well within countries).

+1000 to this.

It’s also worth pointing out that a bunch of the parties that have ridden the anti-immigration wave to partial or complete success in Europe are really rather left-wing on economic policy, as reactionary as they might be on cultural issues. The Danish People’s Party would be a good example, as would a number of political parties in Eastern Europe (Slovak National Party, Jobbik, etc..). It can’t be said enough, a one-dimensional axis for describing the political spectrum doesn’t really work well within countries and especially doesn’t work well between countries or on a global scale.

#38 Comment By Simon smith On January 5, 2018 @ 2:25 am

Your south american analysis is a bit offskew – temer, appointed by parliament in Brazil, is on a 10% approval rating. Ecuador is still left, as well as Bolivia and Uruguay, and they have all passed significant land and labour reforms. Elsewhere, in Germany, the left – sdp/links/greens – is doing better than the right, sinn fein will soon win power in Ireland, labour will win a landslide in Australia if the last year of polling is correct, and the Tories are trailing an actual socialist in the polls. And in 2018, the GOP will lose the house and maybe the senate
I don’t think there’s any clear rightward trend here. Its a highly diverse situation

#39 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On January 5, 2018 @ 11:33 am

Ecuador is still left, as well as Bolivia and Uruguay, and they have all passed significant land and labour reforms.

Nicaragua, too.