Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Ferment on the Left.

Even before the polls have closed the political left is already engaging in the introspection which normally comes after a bad election. One interesting column by Michael Lind at Salon points out that center left, social democrat parties in Europe are losing big time.

The setbacks Democrats are poised to suffer in the midterm election have to be viewed in a trans-Atlantic context. The backlash against Barack Obama and the contemporary Democratic Party is part of a global wave of popular disapproval of social democratic parties that abandoned their traditional working-class constituents in order to woo bankers and professionals.

Parties or coalitions of the left hang on to control in Norway, Spain and Austria. But every major country in Europe -- Britain, France, Germany and Italy -- is now ruled by the center-right. From the Baltic to the Mediterranean, social democratic parties are crumbling.

For most of the 20th century, Sweden’s ruling Social Democrats were the model for center-left parties elsewhere. In September’s election, the Swedish Social Democrats received only 30.9 percent of the vote, their worst showing since 1914. Earlier in 2009, Germany’s Social Democratic Party suffered its worst electoral defeat since World War II, winning only 23 percent of the vote. In Sweden, Germany and elsewhere, Social Democrats are losing voters to populist parties of the right, Greens and hard-left parties.

I question whether they're crumbling because they've moved too far to the right. Based on his analysis, these voters would be going to ever more left wing parties. I don't know that that is happening. I wonder it's rather a case of realism. The welfare state is unsustainable and they're open to moving away from it.

His last paragraph seems to fit the make up of modern Democrat Party in the US. It's more concerned with ideological goals rather the traditional bread and butter issues of the middle class.
...In the U.S., as in Europe, the upper-middle-class activists and intellectuals of the center-left devote far less energy to traditional social democratic issues like social insurance and the minimum wage than to non-economic causes like renewable energy, mass transit, the new urbanism, gay marriage, identity politics and promotion of amnesty for illegal immigrants. On both continents, conservatism is becoming more downscale while progressives are increasingly upmarket.

As I've said elsewhere, the middle class is moving towards the Republicans while the Democrats are made up, increasingly, of the very poor who are dependent on the government to a large degree and, as Lind describes them, "upper-middle-class activists and intellectuals of the center-left." A closer look at much of what they advocate for will only scare off more middle class folks.

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