My day has been thrown off course by a report from the Economist Intelligence Unit. “Revenge of the ‘Deplorables‘” is an excellent long read – asking what’s behind the growing distrust in government institutions and conventional media.
The report asks whether Brexit and Trump are “a triumph of democracy or a threat to it?”
The headline is the EIU’s downgrading of the US from a full to a “flawed” democracy in its Democracy Index 2016 but with this key caveat – the election of Mr Trump as US president “was in large part a consequence of the longstanding problems of democracy in the US.” It’s been a long time coming.
I’m still reading and making notes. But even a third of the way through this 75 page report, I’d highly recommend it. So far it’s canvassed the impact of globalisation, the 2007-8 recession, shrinking social mobility and growing income inequality. Including quotes from the brilliant sociologist Robert Putnam – from “Bowling Alone” in 2000 to the must-read “Our Kids: the American Dream in Crisis” in 2015.
The point is to look at the bigger picture – what’s happening to the post-war party system. “Gradually the world view of party and political elites began to develop on contradistinction to, and in opposition to, that of the voters they had increasingly neglected and left behind”.
The biggest danger is complacency. Passivity in the face of a loss of faith in democracy.
It’s what we’ve got – and we’re lucky to have it.