Why are people in US/Europe fed up with current politicians and moving towards more intolerant/right wing positions (Trump, Brexit, French FN,…) or, to more extreme left wing positions (Corbyn, Sanders, Podemos, Syriza,…)?
A simplistic answer is that everyone in these countries is no longer sharing in the good life. The rich have got a lot richer, the poor have got a lot poorer. The banks crashed the system but largely got away with it, leaving most of us poorer. So there’s more to bitch about.
Globalisation has spread the good life around, but more for ‘them’ than for ‘us’. We just see the bad side of this, as the chickens come home to roost – from various foreign adventures in Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan, Libya, now Syria, etc – from the effects of climate change where globalisation has pressed the accelerator pedal – from population movements that have inevitably resulted.
And the big issues are not being addressed, in some degree due to the corporate stranglehold on change, particularly apparent in the US and apparently being rolled out across the world in varous ‘trade agreements’. Which big issues? Here’s a good starter list: refugees/immigration, climate change, failing debt-based money system, tax havens, unreasonable levels of inequality.
Our politicians are apparently unable to address these issues in any meaningful way. Perhaps because of their powerlessness, they appear to come from a position of denial that they are the big issues. From the top, they appear to be more concerned with winning the next election than doing ‘the right thing’ – see the current ‘Brexit’ referendum, a successful wheeze to win the last election for the Conservatives.
Many of the issues require coordinated action at continental or world level, so there are always excuses as to why nothing is done. The national identity politics of the right simply retreats from even trying to coordinate at these higher levels.
Now most politicians probably start out with the very best of intentions. The recently assassinated Jo Cox was a fine example. Somewhere along the way, is the fire in their bellies quenched by the compromises of power and the seeking of it? I am not qualified to answer, but I would like to see more Jo Coxes with the honesty, directness and fire to get on with what is right for their people.
Image by Garry Kinight [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons