STRATEGI | Radikalism i dess olika former verkar vara det som entusiasmerar väljarna i både USA och Storbritannien.
I Storbritannien har Labour valt socialisten Jeremy Corbyn till partiledare. Gladast för detta blev de konservativa.
I USA har en annan socialist, senator Bernie Sanders, lockat de riktigt stora skarorna. Till stor frustration för Hillary Clinton.
Och hos republikanerna är det naturligtvis Donald Trump som mest rört om i grytan. Enligt The Economist får republikanerna skylla sig själva för utvecklingen.
In the past generation, the number of Americans who call themselves consistently conservative or consistently liberal has doubled. Ideology and identity have coalesced, so that partisans do not just think alike about taxes or Iran, but live in the same neighbourhoods and have like-minded friends. Partisanship may yet curb Mr Trump’s rise.
An awareness of this may be why Mr Trump’s tactics are becoming more conventional, and more conventionally right-wing. His campaign has started touching on themes from the late 1960s, another era of bitter politics and widespread disenchantment in Middle America. The businessman points to rising murder rates in some large cities as proof that a recent focus on police killings and abusive arrests has left officers “afraid to talk to anybody”. Most police are “phenomenal people” and law and order is suffering, says Mr Trump, calling some cities “powder kegs ready to explode”. He has begun using the phrase “silent majority” to describe his supporters, four decades after Richard Nixon started using it to rally conservatives.
Mr Buchanan, who as one of Nixon’s speechwriters coined that phrase, hails Mr Trump for tapping into a mood of renewed nationalism. “The country is on fire,” he says. His main advice to Mr Trump is to rule out an independent or third-party candidacy if he fails to secure the Republican nomination—something which Mr Trump refused to do when pressed during the Fox News debate. Mr Buchanan warns that a third-party run instantly loses the support of those whose chief concern is stopping the Democrats. “If I were counselling Trump I’d tell him to stay inside the Republican Party,” he says. “It’s the only avenue that he has to the presidency of the United States.”
But appeals to partisan purity may be surprisingly ineffective in peeling away those who admire Mr Trump. His fan-base is characterised not by the fidelity of its conservatism, but by the ferocity of its rage. Frank Luntz, a Republican pollster, says he was shaken by a focus group he held on August 24th for two dozen self-declared Trump supporters. They included folk on the hard right but also ex-Obama voters. Unemployed Americans rubbed shoulders with the affluent. But the group had three things in common, says Mr Luntz. They are “mad as hell” about the state of America. Mr Trump speaks their language. And they do not care what anyone else says about him.
If Republican leaders do not know how to stop Mr Trump it is partly their own fault. Theirs is a smaller-government, pro-business party that wins elections by posing as an anti-government insurgency. Now they are facing the consequences: millions of voters dazzled by a showman who presents the next election as a hostile takeover, offering to turn America around with his dealmaking brilliance as if Congress, the Supreme Court and limits to presidential power are mere details to be negotiated. The Trump fantasy will fade at some point. It has already revealed a democracy in real trouble.
Tidskriftsomslag: The Economist den 5-11 september 2015.