Since the 1960s, there has been a strong bond between the conservative Democrats and the Liberal Republicans that was best explained in detail this way.
The pro-business center-right and the pro-labor center-left have combined to dominate the political landscape in most Western countries, hence the smooth transition after elections and the strong business and labor relationship that existed until very recently.
In fact, the biggest single tax cut (usually driven by Republicans) in the past 70 years in the US was enacted not by Donald Trump, George Bush or Ronald Reagan, but by John F. Kennedy, who was not a socialist but an America Loving Democrat.
However, the common ground and ties that have moderated the poltical factions in Europe and North America, well this bond has begun to unwind.
Evidence suggest populism is on the rise in most Western societies, while much of the mainstream media have discredited themselves in recent years, this phenomenon can be measured by the Deutsche Bank Populism Index, which has reached a level that has not been scene since WWII – it is now over 30% and rising in Europe.
These figures are very general but in real life the very little common ground that both the Left and the Right stand on and still have left, is the dissatisfaction and ever growing distrust of the establishment . The 2016 US Presidential election brought this common ground to light when some of the same anti-establishment voters were happy to support either Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump, in what would seem to be two candidates standing on polar opposites of the political spectrum.
This clearly suggests that society, those who are 35 to 65 in the United States feel cheated, left out and are naturally voting against the establishment that placed President Bill Clinton and George Bush in the same camp – strong believers in a global system that served the US and Western Europe well, after WWII, but is currently in the process of breaking down. In the US, the blue collar workers, those in Middle America, from Michigan to Arkansas to Colorado all felt that the coastal areas of the country, those in New York and San Francisco are forming a separate nation of sorts.
Those in Middle America wanted jobs and education for their children with little as disruption in their lives as possible, while those on the East and Left Coast want to bring public awareness to broad issues that are divisive culturally and that society was in need of radical change.
But it gets worse, much worse. Now 51% of Millennials believe that opposing views should be silenced and 60% feel that the Free Speech does not cover Hate Speech which should be outlawed.
Many of the new graduates from colleges and universities assumed until recently that their values were coherent and well thought out and mostly universal, but as of late, they have come to realize that they are, in fact, not. The youth moving into the job market today now realize that their values, attitudes, and beliefs as well as their expectations are diametrically opposed by most of the 35 to 65 year old Americans – who can be a powerful voting block.
More importantly, the recent immigration concerns have made many Americans and Europeans realize that pro-business and pro-nationalist attitudes are becoming totally incompatible, and in some cases in conflict with the current organizations, rules and regulations created in the wake of WWII to govern the post war era.
In sum, this is why the political issues that trouble the United States also trouble Europe, and unfortunately will only get worse. The lines between right and left are being blurred just like the voters for Bernie and Trump were in 2016.
As economies start to move to toward a more national or regional footing, rather than the current hyper globalism order, it is pertinent to remember John F. Kennedy, a Democrat who ushered in the Civil Rights movement, when he said, “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
Many at the time accused the President with harboring “right wing views” when he made this speech and that this was something only a dictator would say. But then as now, he was right. A common love of country does being people together.
Prior to the cultural revolution of the late 1960s, when Kennedy was President, most people believed in reason and logic, and more importantly respect for an opposing opinion. Free Speech served Kennedy and his countrymen well in their Cold War face-off with the Soviet Union. So in these divisive times, plagued by extremist ideologies of all stripes, perhaps love of country and freedom of speech is exactly what the West needs right now. Whether this prescription will be filled is another matter entirely.