The ‘Europeanization’ of U.S. Politics

Ivan Krastev, chairman of the Center for Liberal Strategies, pens a NYT op-ed titled “America Hasn’t Gone Crazy. It’s Just More Like Europe.” Krastev is quite obviously a man of the Left but nonetheless sees the 2016 U.S. race for the Presidency, particularly the surges of Trump and Sanders, as a sign of the Europeanization of American politics, that is, an increasingly polarization between an Alt-Right and a Marxist Left:

… Mr. Trump would be at home in Europe. Mainstream parties barely get half the vote in national elections. What wins instead are the visceral appeals of political resentment. When I enter a cafe here in Sofia or in Warsaw or Amsterdam, I hear groups of women and men calling for foreigners to be bused out of the country, Muslims to be barred from coming in and walls to be erected on our borders.

They speak on behalf of majorities who see themselves menaced by the loss of their political power and the rapid diminution of their economic prosperity. They feel cheated by the demographic revolution that is underway around the world — one that threatens to make them minorities in their own countries. Mr. Trump’s crude directness and his unrivaled skill in manipulating the news media so strongly resemble the political style of the former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi that I sometimes wonder whether Mr. Berlusconi is secretly coaching him from the sidelines.

That the NYT editors are allowing an op-ed on such things is, to me, a signal that the ‘Multiculturalism is Innately Good’ axiom of the NYT may be starting to crack.

Krastev also touches upon an important dynamic to this year’s campaign cycle: the role of authenticity, something that only Trump and Sanders exude in this year’s crop:

Bernie Sanders should be familiar to Europeans as well. Most of the young Europeans I know view capitalism as a rigged and unfair system; to them, real socialism — and not just German-style, neo-liberal “social democracy” — is hardly a dirty word. They see themselves as the biggest losers of the status quo, and often dream out loud of revolution (though, thankfully, of a nonviolent kind). For them the war between generations is the new version of their parents’ (and grandparents’, and great-grandparents’) class war.

In countries like Greece, Spain and Portugal, almost half of the young people are unemployed, despite the university degrees they may have earned. They judge globalization as an unmitigated disaster and loathe the idea of free trade. And while Mr. Sanders is no Jean Jaurès or Leon Trotsky — I find him about as exciting as a cucumber sandwich — for many of the new radicals in America and Europe, his lack of charisma is one more sign of his integrity and authenticity.

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