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The Relentless Decline of Social Democracy in the West

Throughout Europe and the United States, the moderate Left has increasingly become a victim of its own past success.

Published on: October 5, 2017
Josef Joffe serves on the executive committee of The American Interest. On the editorial board of Die Zeit in Hamburg, he is also a fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.
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  • Unelected Leader

    Social democracy, so called, seems to mean illegal immigration, amnesty, horrible trade deals. Got no interest in any of that. Hope social democracy dies quickly if that’s what it delivers. The goal should be focused on shaping something better, and letting “social democracy” die in peace.

    • AbleArcher

      The Democratic Party Lost over 1000 seats under Obama! They’re the weakest they’ve been in 100 years. Yeah, Obama himself won. And? From 2010 onward his party got massacred. He was fortunate to run against a weaker candidate which is good for him personally, but that means little to the health of the party which is getting chemo right now. The popular vote proves this. The Democratic Party is essentially a coastal party. Donald Trump is president today because he has broader support and won more states. The author just doesn’t get it.

    • MikePM

      Don’t forget the trillions and trillions in ever-increasing debt which will continue to slowly strangle economic growth, and ultimately lead to a mass wave of sovereign bankruptcies.

  • Angel Martin

    A lot of this is because the “conservative” parties in Europe are practically indistinguishable from socialist parties.

    When a conservative populist party becomes powerful in Europe, the first thing the “mainstream” parties do is form a coalition against them.

    Merkel and Sgt. Schultz spent most of their debate time agreeing with each other.

  • Psalms13626

    We like our Constitution and our population is very well armed and will protect its Constitutional Rights. Hence the longevity of it. No surprise really.

  • gary

    why do the leftist say democracy (majority rule not laws)? We are a republic. Democracy burns out fast and is replaced with a group of elites ruling every thing. sounds familiar? italy, france, germany, ancient greeks, romans, and the list goes on and on.please read……Our founder fathers said/wrote about democracy.

  • FriendlyGoat

    Those of us who are older and scheduled to pass away sooner—–because we are older—–know that this is not merely a game between political parties in this country or any country. The relevance of individual people in their societies is either rising or falling. When wealth and power are moving up to a smaller and smaller number of players—–and doing so from the effect of the masses being convinced to while away their time majoring in minors—–the long-term implications are not good. Us oldsters reasonably expect to just pass away as the SHTF consequences roll in. “Best wishes” to those obligated to stay on while your better angels are summarily shot.

    • Tom

      Given that y’all created this world, forgive me if I find your protestations…insincere.

    • Anthony

      Referencing “Better Angels”, consider this: “…But if conflicts don’t abate and sharp divisions continue to characterize how we think about democratic life, it is often for reasons that go beyond politics….” https://www.bigquestionsonline.com/2017/02/24/does-intellectual-humility-matter-democracy/

      • FriendlyGoat

        Thanks. From that piece:

        “In democratic politics, a major motivation for being arrogant is that showing openness to the other side is seen by many voters as weakness — as a lack of conviction. And that gets you voted out of office.”

        We have to admit, the “Let’s be reasonable, let’s see both sides, let’s give and take, let’s compromise” folks are not winning elections these days. So most politicians don’t want to be one of those on either side.

        Perhaps that is what I meant in frustration as “while your better angels are summarily shot” flew off my keyboard. Those who WANT to take the intellectual high road (in the middle, with some measure of humility) have no champions who can win anything at the moment. What we WANT to be is what is being exterminated as a viable option before our eyes, no?

        • ვეფხისტყაოსანი

          Defining the middle becomes a challenge, though: Where’s the middle between creationism and evolution? Or between tolerance and intolerance?

          I’d say that the fear is that middleness will out, so the way to win is to produce policies that are as far away from the middle as possible.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Apparently everyone in the partisanship game now thinks that “the way to win is to produce policies that are as far away from the middle as possible.”

            As for the middle between creationism and evolution, how’s this? “You guys like your myth and we like ours. Care to have lunch?

        • Anthony

          My takeaway is “why we argue so heatedly over things we know little about.” But, yes the degrading before our eyes appears to be real (you must vigorously work to stanch it though). On the other hand, WRM used to write about “imponderables” and the anxiety they bring. To my mind, you indirectly infer cause of havoc you also reference – imponderables. For me, it boils down to 1) who are we really (United States); 2) where is country in larger scheme of things; 3) what’s happening to country and does tension go beyond our politics – something conflicts but no one seems to want to honestly inquire into its source. Finally, the high road is the high road yet it does not preclude meeting viciousness with viciousness – Tecumseh Sherman’s point of view.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I “want to honestly inquire into its source”. This is the only thing left for swinging the pendulum back from constant conflict to some kind of sense. The “out of power” party cannot possibly out-yell Trumpism installed. It might (might) succeed in asking people to see what we are all losing. It’s a lot.

          • Anthony

            Damon Linker shares your concern: theweek.com/articles/728494/disintegration-liberal-dream

          • FriendlyGoat

            Thanks. His last line is a fine closer: “most of us will end up missing it once it’s gone.”

            A lot of people don’t know what’s scheduled now for loss. The Left should be busy telling. There is really nothing else to do at this time.

          • Anthony

            Your welcome; I anticipated the last line would grab you.

  • D4x

    Josef Joffe needs to, at minimum, stop thinking there is a “moderate left” left in Obama’s neoDemocratic Party. A lemming could have written this https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e96ae97116415f86242285b6a6cb12e935a4965c827adf1cf6b4c82a5cc3507f.jpg
    October 3,1991: “…This is not just a campaign for the presidency. It is a campaign for the future for the forgotten hardworking people of America for
    their children for all of those who deserve a government that’s on their side fighting for a better tomorrow. It’s a campaign to make a strong at home and abroad. I ask you to join with us today to give me your hands and your heart to give me your prayers and your help.

    I believe that together we can make America great again.

    And with your help your heart your devotion and your efforts we can build a community of hope that will inspire the world. God bless you and thank you very much.”

    Governor Bill Clinton addressed a crowd in Little Rock, AR, to announce his entrance into the 1992 presidential campaign. https://www.c-span.org/video/?21803-1/governor-bill-clinton-dar-presidential-campaign-announcement

    24 years later, swing voters in America voted for the same vision, not fooled by last names, because, 24 years later, enough swing voters refused to be conned by cynical lawyer politicians who harvest votes with ideological distractions, not even mentioning a way out of the Twin Deficits, which were issues in 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012:

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/2eed32515207c14889e16ba19ba7ba75b776896683ef8b647cd65ec89a5dda37.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/19bb70a6bcda25a8b82ad2f97218683f4607f030dffc1f4addf0c01a61eb5461.png

  • ვეფხისტყაოსანი

    Joffe here repeats — at considerable length — what Margaret Thatcher put in eight words: “… eventually you run out of other people’s money.”

    The only way a government can survive these days is by taxing the people they claim to be benefiting. It’s a difficult circle to square.

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