Further Thoughts on the Dawning Era of Right-Populist Politics

Damon Linker at Notes From the Middleground: My previous post was an attempt to make analytical sense of our new political normal, in which right-wing populism is a consistent competitor for power. In this post I’m going to sketch on a broader canvas some thoughts about the same phenomenon, reflecting on where I think we are in the longer arc of history.

I’ll begin by being blunt: I think Donald Trump is probably going to beat Joe Biden in November. I also think the right-wing RN, led by Marine Le Pen and her protégé Jordan Bardella, is going to do quite well in the elections centrist French President Emmanuel Macron has (foolishly) called for late this month and early July—and that similar parties and movements around the world will continue to thrive over the short-to-medium term, winning electoral contests and setting the terms of political debate throughout much of the democratic world.

This doesn’t mean they’ll always prevail. Sometimes they’ll lose. At other times they’ll win and then lose the next time elections are called. My point, then, is simply to say, as I did in my last post, that right-wing populism is here to stay. It’s a part of our political reality now. A big part.

A Melancholy, Long, Withdrawing Roar

Why do I think this? It’s not just election results and polling data. Something has shifted. The political world in which we live is not the same political world in which I grew up (in the late-Cold War 1970s and ’80s) or the one in which I learned how to orient myself intellectually and professionally (in the post-Cold War ’90s and ’00s). Those were decades close enough in time to the centrist-liberal consensus of the mid-20th-century postwar decades that its assumptions shaped the boundaries of the possible by default.

That is no longer the case. Having observed the rapid fading of the postwar consensus as a pundit over the past decade, I’m reminded of Matthew Arnold’s well-known line about the “melancholy, long, withdrawing roar” of retreating religious faith in the mid-19th century…

More here.