It’s fashionable for the political consultants and their media co-conspirators to say that “all politics is local,” but they are beating their own professional drums. Much of the time — and especially in revolutionary moments like this one — politics is global.
Step back a few few paces and look down at the Western world from the moon. Don’t you see a political pattern? Most everywhere, the right is gaining and the left is losing strength. England went from left to center-right. Canada went from left to right. France has been right for quite a while. Italy has been mostly right, and Germany went from left to right a few years back. In Australia, Kevin Rudd, the leftist Labor Party’s prime minister, went from the most popular leader in the country’s history at the beginning of the year, to a loser purged by his own colleagues in the summer. His successor, Julia Gillard, squeaked through an election and holds a wispy 2-seat majority. Portugal’s Socialist Prime Minister Socrates (not to be confused with the great Brazilian soccer star of the same name) lost about 10 points in the last election, and Spain’s Zapatero lost votes in his reelection.
Prior to Tuesday, the most dramatic example of this trend was in Holland, where a new center-right government has been formed, and where the previously tarred and feathered Geert Wilders is now making policy. Our legislative elections took the process a step farther.
The dimensions of the shift towards the right make it what historians call a paradigm shift. We are somewhere in transition from a world we understood and whose rules were fairly well established — the bipolar world of the Cold War in which the two great powers made most all the key decisions — to a world we cannot yet define. Yes, it’s said to be “globalized,” but that doesn’t tell us how the key decisions will be made or who the main actors will be once the new paradigm is in place. We do know that there are more global players than before, we suspect that the welfare state has got to go, and we certainly know that the wildly self-indulgent version of the nanny state is too expensive, even for rich countries like the United States. Right now we’re trying to get a grip on things, from our budgets to our national security, but we do not yet know the new rules. And how could we? They haven’t been written yet.
And that’s what the fighting — political at home, military and spooky around the globe — is all about. We want to shape the new world, not passively wait for it to take form, right? And that’s true of the competing and conflicting forces from the jihadis to the Jews, from the libertarians to the advocates of soft tyranny, from the Chinese to the rednecks.