2016: The Nightmare of The Left

Across both Eastern and Western Europe, relatively new political parties focused on the inextricable issues of immigration, national identity, and national sovereignty are making major gains.

In the U.S., while many of us — disgusted with GOP, Inc. — wait patiently for a Third Party to emerge, Donald Trump is essentially waging an insurgent third party candidacy, albeit one that is ‘officially’ under the Republican banner.

The confluence of forces that appears to be teleologically guiding the Alt-Right politics of various white nations, the similarity between them all, appears to be a phenomenon one can rationally describe as an ‘awakening’.

It’s encouraging, then, to read the liberal Gideon Rachman write an op-ed in the Financial Times that is a clarion call to liberals (and GOP, Inc.) not to underestimate these possible forces:

I have a nightmare vision for the year 2017: President Trump, President Le Pen, President Putin.

Like most nightmares, this one probably won’t come true. But the very fact that Donald Trump and Marine Le Pen are running strongly for the American and French presidencies says something disturbing about the health of liberal democracy in the west. In confusing and scary times, voters seem tempted to turn to “strong” nationalistic leaders — western versions of Russia’s Vladimir Putin

Many Democrats chortle that if the Republicans are mad enough to nominate Mr Trump, he would certainly be trounced by Hillary Clinton in the presidential election. But even that cannot be assumed. The most recent national poll on a Trump v Clinton contest had Mr Trump winning by five points

The rise of the political extremes is not confined to the US and France. Ultra-nationalist parties are in power in Hungary and Poland, both members of the EU. Nationalist parties are on the rise in Scotland and Catalonia, threatening the survival of the UK and Spain as nation states.

A sense of crisis is growing in Germany with the expected arrival of more than 1m refugees this year, leading to a backlash against Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government. With recessions and debt crises in southern Europe, “fringe” parties have moved into government in Greece and Portugal.

So what is going on in western politics? The overarching development is a loss of faith in traditional political elites and a search for radical alternatives. Behind that, it seems to me, there are four broad trends: an increase in economic insecurity, a backlash against immigration, a fear of terrorism and the decline of traditional media…

For populists, nationalists and extremists across the western world, a common theme is that the mainstream media are suppressing debate and are controlled by an untrustworthy elite. Republican candidates have learnt that chastising reporters is an easy way to win applause. In France and Germany the argument that the politically correct “lying media” have suppressed debate about immigration is increasingly popular. Meanwhile, the rise of social media has allowed alternative narratives to flourish…

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