End of Conventional Political Parties

The year conventional political wisdom was turned upside down

Shred the political playbook. The 2016 campaign will be remembered as the year in which the conventional wisdom was anything but wise. Most political pundits have been wrong. And almost every assumption about presidential campaigns since the birth of modern politics in 1960, with the first televised debate and widespread use of TV advertising, has been debunked. Our political catechism has been upended. Consider the following:


Blaming Elites For The Rise Of Populism

Whether it’s Donald Trump or the Brexit movement, the rise of populism has helped crystalize the fact that there are two kinds of elites: those who like to bash populists for being foolish, and those who like to bash other elites for failing to give populists enough of what they want.

While anti-elites love to sneer at elites for being blinded by class-bias and detachment, I’d gently suggest they ask themselves if their own love of bashing their fellow elites represents it’s own kind of blinding bias. This is made pretty clear in the amount of fun they are having in their anti-elitism. And while I enjoy bashing populism, I also can’t deny having used the anti-elitism complaint against a certain breed of Republicanism that has held tax cuts as the be-all-end-all solution for 30 years now.

What’s interesting is that the anti-elite elites don’t seem to have policy preferences that differ that greatly from other elites, and everybody basically thinks status quo needs changing in one way or another. And I don’t think points based skilled immigration systems and relocation vouchers aren’t what most anti-immigration protesters have in mind.


It’s not just Trump. Authoritarian populism is rising

Many American commentators have had trouble understanding the rise of Donald Trump. How could such a figure surge to become the most likely standard-bearer for the GOP – much less have any chance of entering the White House?

But Trump is far from unique. As many commentators have noted, he fits the wave of authoritarian populists whose support has swelled in many Western democracies.

The graph below from ParlGov data illustrates the surge in the share of the vote for populist authoritarian parliamentary parties (defined as rated 8.0 or above by experts on left-right scales) across 34 OECD countries.


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