Daily Bulletin


The Conversation

  • Written by The Conversation
imageJeremy Corbyn: the future PM?Haydn, CC BY-NC-SA

They might not like to admit it as openly as Tony Blair has, but many of the most respectable politicians in the Western world are suffering sleepless nights.

Upstart candidates and parties seem to be challenging the political establishment all over the western world. In Greece, anti-austerity party Syriza now governs and its Spanish counterpart Podemos has made significant gains.

In the UK, progressive candidate Jeremy Corbyn continues to shock by outpolling his centrist rivals for the Labour Party leadership. His popularity directly counters the belief that electability means moving to the increasingly conservative centre ground.

Meanwhile in the US, Bernie Sanders, an avowedly socialist presidential candidate in the US, is drawing record crowds, despite having been initially dismissed as a contender.

On the other side of the ideological spectrum, Donald Trump is giving his rivals are run for their money in the contest for the Republican party nomination. Relying on a toxic rhetoric of ultra nationalism, he is connecting to many voters who have lost faith in the US political process and its representatives.

imageDonald Trump: there’s an upstart for every taste.Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA

Despite political differences, these campaigns all reveal the widespread popular dissatisfaction with so-called “respectable” politics and politicians. They highlight the desire to find something they can identify with outside the conventional and hollow bounds of political acceptability.

Be serious

In every election there is support for candidates who set out their stall on the fringes of the political mainstream. The sacred centre is called so for a reason – it reflects a supposed middle ground between competing radical extremes. But these candidates seem to be having far more success than most. Their popularity cannot be easily disregarded. They represent a clear and present danger to perceived frontrunners.

The establishment has taken notice and gone on the offensive. As it became clear that Corbyn was a serious contender, Tony Blair emerged from political retirement to blast him and his followers. He warned that shifting back to the far left would be an ideological and electorial mistake for Labour. “People who say their heart is with Jeremy Corbyn,” he advised, “get a transplant”.

US politicians are similarly disparaging towards the upstarts. To centrist Democrats, Sanders is unelectable and indirectly helping the opposition by continuing to stand against fellow Democrat, Hillary Clinton. Many Republicans are distancing themselves from Trump after his recent comments attacking John McCain’s record as a “war hero”. They remain largely quiet on his demonisation of Mexican immigrants as “rapists”, mind you.

Straight and too narrow

These are not merely struggles between the political centre and the extremes though. These candidates all represent a fundamental defiance of “serious” politics as a whole. They are a challenge to the established democratic political class and their “legitimate” beliefs – particularly when it comes to austerity.

The eurozone crisis has, for many, turned the idea of who is and is not legitimate on its head. Germany stands accused of neoliberal authoritarianism in its support for austerity while Syriza, once seen as a group of radicals, are now seen by some as the victims of an unfair and illegitimate global order.

imageBernie Sanders: causing trouble for Clinton.EPA/Astrid Riecken

In the same spirit, Sanders is seeking to reframe the debate entirely. He has repeatedly said that he likes and respects his opponent Hillary Clinton. What he objects to is the entire financially driven political and economic system that she appears to represent.

Take or leave us

This embrace of less-conventional candidates is associated with the failure of “legitimate” politicians to adequately deal with pressing problems of economic inequality, climate change and the growing power of financial capitalism – among others. Citizens are less tolerant of the politicians who find the status quo acceptable, particularly given the damage caused by their “legitimate” politics.

Here, the interests and commonly extreme policies of a small elite are portrayed as “common sense” and unassailable in their correctness. But the disastrous Iraq War and the 2008 financial crisis have revealed the true cost of these “legitimate” policies and the price that will be paid for re-electing the kind of politicians who steered the world towards them.

Non-respectable politics, of course, carries its own dangers. Trump is showing how an alternative voice can be manipulated in a populist politics of blame and distraction. Yet his strategies are to be found in mainstream political discourse too. Germany can justifiably blame Greeks for their debt bondage and David Cameron can shift blame for the financial crisis from bankers to poor welfare cheats.

Voters are rightfully wary of acceptable politics in an unacceptable society. They have every reason to beware of extremism that masks itself as “centrist” and “legitimate”. If the time for “respectable” politicians is over – really, they asked for it.

Peter Bloom does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond the academic appointment above.

Authors: The Conversation

Read more http://theconversation.com/never-gonna-be-respectable-jeremy-bernie-and-donald-offer-a-real-alternative-45077

Writers Wanted

My favourite detective: Sam Spade, as hard as nails and the smartest guy in the room

arrow_forward

Worried about COVID risk on a flight? Here's what you can do to protect yourself — and how airlines can step up

arrow_forward

Fixing Your Bad Credit

arrow_forward

The Conversation
INTERWEBS DIGITAL AGENCY

Politics

Prime Minister Interview with Kieran Gilbert, Sky News

KIERAN GILBERT: Kieran Gilbert here with you and the Prime Minister joins me. Prime Minister, thanks so much for your time.  PRIME MINISTER: G'day Kieran.  GILBERT: An assumption a vaccine is ...

Daily Bulletin - avatar Daily Bulletin

Did BLM Really Change the US Police Work?

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has proven that the power of the state rests in the hands of the people it governs. Following the death of 46-year-old black American George Floyd in a case of ...

a Guest Writer - avatar a Guest Writer

Scott Morrison: the right man at the right time

Australia is not at war with another nation or ideology in August 2020 but the nation is in conflict. There are serious threats from China and there are many challenges flowing from the pandemic tha...

Greg Rogers - avatar Greg Rogers

Business News

Cybersecurity data means nothing to business leaders without context

Top business leaders are starting to realise the widespread impact a cyberattack can have on a business. Unfortunately, according to a study by Forrester Consulting commissioned by Tenable, some...

Scott McKinnel, ANZ Country Manager, Tenable - avatar Scott McKinnel, ANZ Country Manager, Tenable

InteliCare triple winner at prestigious national technology awards

InteliCare triple winner at prestigious national technology awards Intelicare wins each nominated category and takes out overall category at national technology 2020 iAwards. Company wins overal...

Media Release - avatar Media Release

Arriba Group Founder, Marcella Romero, wins CEO Magazine’s Managing Director of the Year

Founder and Managing Director of the Arriba Group, Marcella Romero, has won Managing Director of the Year at last night’s The CEO Magazine’s Executive of the Year Awards. The CEO Magazine's Ex...

Lanham Media - avatar Lanham Media



News Co Media Group

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion