Thursday, February 13, 2020
Underlying the trend is a wider realignment of politics away from the economic conflicts of the 20th century toward the cultural battles of the 21st. Instead of just talking about state redistribution versus free markets, elections increasingly revolve around questions of immigration, national identity, and domestic security. This disadvantages the Left.
Why? Because, as David Goodhart remarked in an interview, it’s easier for right-wing parties to move left on economics than for left-wing parties to move right on culture.
That is, left-wing parties cannot move to the vote-rich zone of most electorates where the median voter—typically somewhat conservative on culture and centre-left on economics—resides. Conservatives can do so more easily as they are less beholden to libertarian economic orthodoxy than left-wing parties are to progressive cultural values.
Identity politics and multiculturalism are central motivating forces for the highly-educated activists who have dominated left-wing parties since the ’68 generation rose to prominence. These ideas tend to be considerably less popular than the Left’s economic offer, hence the bind the Left finds itself in.