May 12th 2018

The Rise of the Middle  in the Era of “Hybrid” Politics

by Daniel Wagner

Daniel Wagner is CEO of Country Risk Solutions and co-author of the book "Global Risk Agility and Decision Making" (Macmillan). 

 

Not so long ago, voting age Americans were either Democrat or Republican, Liberal or Conservative,  and a climate change denier or a bunny hugger. It was deemed safe to stake out a position at one end of the political spectrum or the other, under the assumption that most people were not “lost” somewhere in the middle, but were, rather, at one extreme or the other. If you were pro-gun you were also probably pro-life and anti-immigrant, and if you were against fracking you were also likely to be pro-choice and in favor of gay rights. Some Americans still fall neatly into these categories, but in general, it has become more difficult to label people, or their stance on any number of issues, simply by virtue of the fact that they may generally be either Liberal or Conservative. We are witnessing the rise of the middle in the era of hybrid politics.

Consider this – as extreme partisanship and divisiveness becomes even further entrenched in the American political psyche, Americans are living in a decidedly more complex country where issues that were previously in the background have moved to the foreground and vice versa. For example, some aspects of America’s immigration policies, which have been firmly entrenched and have remained largely unquestioned for decades, are now front and center, whether it is  the relatively unimpeded flow of illegal immigrants from its southern border or Hondurans who came to the US 20 years ago because of the economic damage of Hurricane Mitch and never left. Most Americans knew little about the intricacies of such issues, nor did they necessarily care, but today, being bombarded as we are by headlines about them in the news, we develop a point of view where we may not have had one before.

You might have been a Conservative and voted for President Trump in 2016, but because your cousin is Honduran and will soon be deported, you have sworn never to vote for him again – or any other Republican candidate for that matter. You may be a fiscal conservative but a social liberal, you may have been a life-long Republican but hate Trump and now reject the Republican Party, or you may always have voted Democrat but are so disgusted with the Democratic Party’s sclerotic senior leadership that you will vote as an Independent in the next election. Where does that leave you on the Democrat versus Republican, Liberal versus Conservative scale?

We have all undoubtedly been surprised to learn about the political leanings of our some of our friends and family in the Trump era. People we thought we knew, it turns out, we did not know so well after all. We have all heard of friends and marriages that have broken apart because of the 2016 election. Many of us remain afraid to even speak about politics or sensitive issues related to it for fear that we may risk starting a relationship, not getting hired, or ending a friendship if we did so. But I suspect it is also true to say that most people actually subscribe to some of the policy platforms and belief systems on both sides of the political spectrum.

For example, how many Americans do you think you will find who are against strong borders, a robust military, or in favor of a foreign power meddling in US elections? How many do you know who think Congress is doing a terrific job or that America’s relationship with the rest of the world is just fine and wouldn’t change a thing? Would anyone you know who came to the US as a legal immigrant say that it is perfectly alright with them if as many illegal immigrants came to this country as wanted to do so? You get my point. It is easy to say you may not like Trump, but not so easy to say that you dislike everything he stands for – and I am saying that as an Independent who did not vote for Hillary but voted against Trump.

As I said in an article that I wrote in advance of Trump’s election (yes, I predicted he would win) and published within an hour of him being declared the winner in 2016, “If Mr. Trump can deliver on half of what he has promised, I may even consider voting for him if he runs in 4 years”. I said that, despising him as I did (and still do), because I felt I no longer had the luxury of pigeon holing myself into a category that I knew did not actually represent the totality of my own views. I reiterate that belief today, but suggest, in addition, that many Americans who consider themselves to be on one side of the political spectrum or the other, actually are not, if they were to break the issues down. They are likelier to find that they are part Conservative and part Liberal, and that the classification of being a Democrat or Republican actually no longer fits their own narrative.

That is why I am suggesting that what is also occurring – silently and behind the scenes in America - is the rise of a new breed of voter: those in the middle who defy simple categorization and are in reality a hybrid of Liberalism and Conservatism. They may be staunchly Republican but viscerally disagree with some of the central tenets of the current Republican Party platform. They may be gay Democrats who happen to embrace parts of that same Republican Party platform. Or they may be believers in the Second Amendment who absolutely oppose the NRA because of its stance on automatic weapons.

If you take out a piece of paper and put 10 political issues that are important to you on one side and the words “Republican” or “Democrat” on the top, then categorize them, most of you are likely to find that you, too, are a hybrid of both. If my contention is correct, and enough voters get fed up enough with the political status quo in the mid-terms and the next presidential election to say that neither Party actually represents their belief system, we may just find that the 40% of American voters who are already Independent turns into 50% or 60% in the near term. I am willing to bet that in spite of all the hype about most Americans being firmly in one political camp or the other, that most Americans are actually middle ground voters who form part of the emerging hybrid political class. Whether they choose to remain affiliated with either the Democrat or Republican Parties in the future remains to be seen. Stay tuned.

 

*Daniel Wagner is CEO of Country Risk Solutions and author, most recently, of Virtual Terror.

This article first appeared International Policy Digest.

 


This article is brought to you by the author who owns the copyright to the text.

Should you want to support the author’s creative work you can use the PayPal “Donate” button below.

Your donation is a transaction between you and the author. The proceeds go directly to the author’s PayPal account in full less PayPal’s commission.

Facts & Arts neither receives information about you, nor of your donation, nor does Facts & Arts receive a commission.

Facts & Arts does not pay the author, nor takes paid by the author, for the posting of the author's material on Facts & Arts. Facts & Arts finances its operations by selling advertising space.

 

 

Browse articles by author

More Current Affairs

Oct 17th 2018
Yemen is a country of some 29 million persons, but over a third of them are at risk of starvation if Saudi and UAE bombing campaigns continue.
Oct 14th 2018
Now the Trump administration is eroding the dollar’s global role. Having unilaterally reimposed sanctions on Iran, it is threatening to penalize companies doing business with the Islamic Republic by denying them access to US banks. The threat is serious because US banks are the main source of dollars used in cross-border transactions. According to the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), dollars are used in nearly half of all cross-border payments, a share far greater than the weight of the US in the world economy. In response to the Trump administration’s stance, Germany, France, and Britain, together with Russia and China, have announced plans to circumvent the dollar, US banks, and US government scrutiny. “Plans” may be a bit strong, given that few details have been provided. But the three countries have described in general terms the creation of a stand-alone financial entity, owned and organized by the governments in question, to facilitate transactions between Iran and foreign companies.
Oct 5th 2018
There are a lot of oddballs in US President Donald Trump’s entourage, but few are as odd – or as sinister – as 33-year-old Stephen Miller, Trump’s senior policy adviser. Miller resembles a type on the far right that is more common in Europe than the US: young, slick, sharp-suited, even a trifle dandyish. He is a skilled rabble-rouser, whose inflammatory rhetoric against immigrants and refugees – “We’re going to build that wall high and we’re going to build it tall !”– drives the crowds at Trump rallies into a frenzy. One of his crowd-pleasing notions is that migrants will infect Americans with terrible diseases.
Oct 3rd 2018
.....here we are in 2018, 40 years after Camp David. The Palestinian dream of an independent state is not only unrealized but is most likely unrealizable. With many Palestinians now favoring a one state solution......the once "Arab minority"  is now a majority.....
Sep 25th 2018
The US stock market, as measured by the monthly real (inflation-adjusted) S&P Composite Index, or S&P 500, has increased 3.3-fold since its bottom in March 2009. This makes the US stock market the most expensive in the world, according to the cyclically adjusted price-to-earnings (CAPE) ratio that I have long advocated. Is the price increase justified, or are we witnessing a bubble?
Sep 23rd 2018
Global debt recently hit a new record high of 225% of world GDP, amounting to US$164 trillion. The world is now 12 points deeper in debt than the previous peak in 2009, with advanced economies’ ratios at levels not seen since World War II.
Sep 18th 2018
To understand them, it is worth looking at three reputable leaders who died this summer: former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, former British Foreign Secretary and NATO Secretary-General Peter Carrington, and US Senator John McCain. Having worked with Annan and for Carrington, I can vouch for their grace, honor, and commitment to truth. McCain plainly had the same qualities, not to mention a level of personal bravery far beyond what is expected of most of us (though it should be noted that Carrington was also a war hero). These leaders’ combination of honor and commitment to truth – two attributes that are intrinsically connected – is nowhere to be seen in Trump or Johnson.
Sep 18th 2018
From controlling the media to stoking nationalism, Russian President Vladimir Putin has always known how to keep his approval ratings high. But Russians’ lives are not getting any better, especially after the latest round of Western economic sanctions – and Putin’s declining approval rating shows it.
Sep 15th 2018
As we mark the decennial of the collapse of Lehman Brothers, there are still ongoing debates about the causes and consequences of the financial crisis, and whether the lessons needed to prepare for the next one have been absorbed. But looking ahead, the more relevant question is what actually will trigger the next global recession and crisis, and when. The current global expansion will likely continue into next year, given that the US is running large fiscal deficits, China is pursuing loose fiscal and credit policies, and Europe remains on a recovery path. But by 2020, the conditions will be ripe for a financial crisis, followed by a global recession. There are 10 reasons for this. First, the fiscal-stimulus policies that are currently pushing the annual US growth rate above its 2% potential are unsustainable. By 2020, the stimulus will run out, and a modest fiscal drag will pull growth from 3% to slightly below 2%.
Sep 12th 2018
Next month, a judge in Oregon will begin hearing a case brought against the United States government on behalf of 21 young people, supported by the non-profit organization Our Children’s Trust, who allege that the authorities’ active contributions to the climate crisis violate their constitutional rights. The government defendants have repeatedly tried – so far without success – to have the case thrown out or delayed, and the trial is currently scheduled to start on October 29.
Sep 5th 2018
Wars are expensive, as the Russian people are now learning. The Kremlin is pursuing military adventures in Eastern Ukraine and Syria, and though these conflicts are limited in scope, one wonders if the country can really afford them.
Sep 1st 2018
This week, the California state legislature voted to mandate that all the state’s electricity come from non-carbon sources (chiefly wind, solar and hydro) by 2045. Since California if it were a country would have the world’s fifth largest economy, and since so many other states are economically integrated with it, this plan, if signed by governor Jerry Brown, could help transform the entire country. The goal is less difficult than it seems on the surface. California had already committed to getting one third of its electricity from renewables by 2020, and reached that goal in 2017. It committed to getting 50% of its electricity from renewables by 2030, and in fact will likely reach that goal 10 years early, in 2020.
Aug 29th 2018
Quote: "This may ultimately result in creation of a new accounting standard - the Enterprise Value of Data – which could become an integral part of financial statements, capturing the value of the largest and most ignored corporate asset: data."
Aug 29th 2018
What comes through clearly in polling on US public opinion is that there is a deep partisan divide on the Israeli/Palestinian issue, with key demographic groups increasingly more supportive of Palestinian rights and antagonistic to hardline Israeli policies. In some ways, the Netanyahu/Trump "marriage" has also helped to fuel the partisan divide. A Pew poll from earlier this year found that support for Palestinians far surpasses support for Israel among self-described "progressive" and "liberal" voters. And a recent Gallup poll shows that only 17% of Democrats now have a favorable view of the Israeli leader. 
Aug 27th 2018
History suggests that current-account imbalances ultimately matter a great deal. A still-unbalanced global economy may be forced to relearn that painful lesson in the coming years.
Aug 27th 2018
The United States economy is doing well. But the next recession – and there is always another recession – could be very bad. The US Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that GDP growth in the second quarter of 2018 reached 4.1% – the highest since the 4.9% seen under President Barack Obama in 2014. Another year of growth will match the record ten-year expansion of the 1990s. Add to that low unemployment, and things are looking good. But this cannot continue forever.
Aug 24th 2018
If Britain leaves the European Union with no deal in place to govern trade with its biggest partner, it will fall back on World Trade Organisation rules. The same set of rules would apply to EU countries and non-EU trade partners. This is why the UK government has published a series of “technical notices” detailing preparations for a no-deal Brexit. Here are seven reasons that sum up why a no-deal Brexit and defaulting to WTO rules would be bad for British businesses and the wider economy.
Aug 23rd 2018
Unlike today’s aspiring strongmen, a truly tough leader would stand up for international cooperation, and seek to persuade voters why it matters. One hopes that French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will do precisely that in the coming months. In the meantime, we must pray that wannabe tough guys like Trump and Erdoğan do not do too much damage to their respective countries, and to the rest of us. It is time to make cooperation great again.
Aug 23rd 2018
Historians will mark August 21, 2018, as a turning point in American history. President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer pleaded guilty to 8 counts of criminal wrongdoing that could carry a sentence of up to 65 years. Most significantly, he pleaded guilty to having attempted illegally to interfere in an election “in coordination with and at the direction of a federal candidate for office.”
Aug 22nd 2018
As the usual political inferno between parties and private firms rages on, the phantom threat of mafia involvement in Italian construction has resurfaced. The region of Liguria sadly scores quite high in the assessments of mafia infiltration. In the area, Calabrian mafia clans of the ‘ndrangheta – Italy’s most powerful mafia today – have heavily invested in the construction sector, in public tenders and in the exploitation of the port of Genoa and the roads to France and to the rest of the Italian north, for the purposes of illegal trafficking.