Tony Barber is gloomy about the prospects for the right wing in the US and UK when writing in the FT this morning:
Matters have now reached the point at which it is no longer inconceivable that both the Republicans and the Conservatives will break apart. For two parties that once had an almost instinctive feel for the pragmatic style of politics that wins voters’ trust and delivers election victories, this is an almost unbelievable turn of events. But the seeds of each party’s divisions were sown a long time ago.
My City University colleague Prof Inderjeet Parmar also thinks there is a storm coming, writing in The Wire:
The established political system in America is in shock, and it does not look as if this firestorm is likely to burn itself out anytime soon. But it is the storm before the calm.
But, he adds:
As Thomas Jefferson said of Shays’ armed rebellion against heavier taxes levied to pay the war loans of rich merchants, “a little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing” for a republic. It brings to the surface the simmering frustrations of the people which forces governments to act.
He sounds a note of pessimism:
Should Hillary Clinton and Trump slug it out in the contest for the White House, the degree of polarisation could well lead to general ugliness – and even serious outbreaks of violence.
But thinks there are also grounds for hope:
The core message from Trump and Sanders is that the economic system is failing most Americans, increasing corporate wealth, income and wealth inequality, and polarising society and politics. The votes for Sanders and Trump are really screams against a political establishment that has been taken over by corporations, corporate mentalities and agendas – lower taxes and more state subsidies for the rich, the outsourcing of well paid jobs through globalisation to low-wage societies. It is a delayed-reaction demand for a recalibration of the system after the long reign of neo-liberal, free-markets-know-it-all politics. The ideological dominance of neoliberalism is now under severe strain. Markets do not correct themselves, politics does.
It’s the storm before the calm of which Jefferson would have approved, refreshing the tree of liberty, the health of government, and the happiness of the people.
As I said at the Political Studies Association on Monday, we are in a state of flux at a point where change in the political eras in which we live is inevitable, but what the next era might be is not clear as yet. Inderjeet thinks the system has the means to revive itself and has sufficient balances within it to embrace another new prevailing philosophy. I hope he is right: we need peaceful progress to new thinking.