I’ve been reading and thinking about Simon Reid-Henry’s book Empire of Democracy: The Remaking of the West Since the Cold War, 1971-2017.
At the beginning of the postwar era, the Democratic Party and the New Deal coalition was strong in the United States. The Christian Democrats and Social Democrats were similarly strong in Western Europe. In the wake of the Great Depression, there was a strong majority for what was called “embedded liberalism.” Politically speaking, the foundation of that era in the United States was the support of the Solid South which then as now was socially conservative.
From the Truman through the Reagan presidency, the New Deal coalition was destroyed after it peaked under LBJ in the 1960s. The era of embedded liberalism was followed by the era of neoliberalism. The cause of the collapse of the New Deal coalition was a falling out over polarizing cultural issues like public school integration, black crime and abortion. In our own times, multiculturalism, political correctness, mass immigration and woke supremacy have played a similar role. These are all issues which divide the public from Left-Libertarians who aggravate everyone else in our society with their aggressive social liberalism.
Where did the “far right” come from? The “far right” is the angry middle on this map of the U.S. electorate. It is “far right” in the sense of being far more moderate on economics and thus overall closer to the Left than conservatives and libertarians.
As the Left has become more socially and culturally libertarian, the Deep South was logically the first region to bolt in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. By the time you get to Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, Greater Appalachia shifted from being a swing region to Republican. Al Gore didn’t become president in 2000 because he lost Tennessee.
In the 2016 election, the Rust Belt swung behind Trump. The Republicans posted huge gains across the Deep North after being perceived as more moderate on foreign policy, more committed to economic nationalism and more in tune with those voters on social issues.
The trend in American politics over the course of the past 70 years is that the Democrats have been shrinking into a party of minorities and middle class urban professionals who are social liberals. The gains made by Republicans have all been related to the social liberalism of the Democrats rising above the comfort level of large swathes of White voters. Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama all won the presidency by coming across as moderates.
In Western Europe, the Christian Democrats and Social Democrats have bled support to the “far right.” Jeremy Corbyn finally destroyed the Labour Party by splitting it in two over Brexit and was left with nothing but minorities and middle class urban professionals. In the UK, this was compounded by the fact that this group is split between Labour and the Liberal Democrats. The SNP in Scotland has also siphoned away people who used to vote for Labour. While the Democrats don’t have this particular problem, the underlying dynamic is the same.
The Center Left to Right pipeline is what is responsible for the “far right.” Then again, the fact that the Left continues to alienate millions of its own voters by becoming ever more radical on social issues really explains almost everything about our politics.
Imagine the following dialogue among our Left-Libertarian elites:
Joan: Hey, I got an idea which is a massive electoral albatross which will sow confusion among our own voters and push millions of them into supporting populist rightwing reactionary governments.
Dave: What’s your idea?
Joan: My idea is that we need to abolish the concept that there are “men” and “women.” Some men have vaginas while some women have penises. You should be able to choose whether to be male or female or any gender you imagine yourself to be. Male and female spaces should be integrated. We will shout down anyone who disagrees with this idea as a bigot and in order to signal our superior moral status above the retrograde masses, we will post our pronouns on Twitter.
Dave: That sounds brilliant!
Joan: We will label any woman who objects as a TERF and shout down anyone who opposes the use of these pronouns.
Dave: Sounds even better.
Joan: This is how we will bring about a situation where something like 70% of the country supports raising taxes on the wealthy, but they will get a massive tax cut anyway.