The Center-Left Rises in the West, The Right Is In Retreat

The Center-Left Rises in the West, The Right Is In Retreat- Since the infamous Trump-Putin Helsinki summit in the summer of 2018, the far right extremist politics new this alliance represented has steadily lost ground in the West.  Democrats took the Presidency, the Senate and House in very high turnout elections in 2018 and 2020.  In the 2019 European elections Greens and Liberals were the big winners.  A new emerging coalition of Center/Liberals, Social Democrats/Progressives and Greens now run the governments of Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the US.  Even in the UK, recent polling now has now Labour ahead of the Tories 40% to 34%, and Labour/Lib Dems/Greens lead the Tories/UKIP/Reform 56%-39%, a margin similar to Macron’s huge rout of Le Pen.  The center right and Putin aligned, anti-Europe far right are now more out of power in the West than in any time in recent memory. The EU and NATO are expanding.  A new center/center-left is clearly ascendent.

Russia’s aggression and barbarism in Ukraine has also become serious political problem for the Western right, including the GOP here in the US.  The Republican Party’s leading politician, Donald Trump, has deep ties to Putin and continues to praise him.  A leading institution of the American right, CPAC, heads to Hungary in a few weeks to create common cause with Putin’s last remaining major European ally, Victor Orban.  A record number of Americans voted against Trump’s illiberalism in 2018 and 2020 (Dem’s won these two elections by an average of 6.5 pts), and as we have argued, the GOP’s doubling down on MAGA/insurrection/illiberalism is going to create a very low ceiling for the Republican Party this fall, perhaps low enough to deny them a victory.  Voters in the West, including America, have been embracing a far more liberal and green politics in recent years, and it is hard for us to imagine all those voters who viewed MAGA as a big threat putting illiberal insurrectionists back in control of the House, particularly when all can see what savagery Putinism brings.  The political space for this kind of extremist politics is disappearing in the West, for good reason, and the GOP’s doubling down on it in recent months looks increasingly like a huge miscalculation. 

If American voters come to believe that a vote for the GOP helps Putin and weakens the West this could be a far more challenging environment for Republicans this fall than the current landscape suggests.  As a new Ron Brownstein CNN essay quotes Simon: “It is critical that Democrats take this radicalization we are witnessing and make it into a kitchen table issue. That has to be part of the discourse with the American people this year in order to make this into a competitive election.”