By now, it’s undeniable: America’s frustration with political elites is upending party loyalty. And now, this phenomenon is taking on global proportions.
According to a recent poll, nearly half of Bernie Sanders’s supporters will not vote for Hillary Clinton, while 22 percent are backing Donald Trump. “I’m a registered Democrat,” one respondent explained, “but I cannot bring myself to vote for another establishment politician like Hillary.”
Based on media coverage, it’s easy to label this distaste purely domestic. However, from the U.K.’s “Brexit” referendum to political movements in France, Italy, and the republic of Georgia, voters have been rising up against an out-of-touch, technocratic elite.
In each of these cases, political insiders have responded with doomsday predictions. Voting against the establishment, they argue, will lead to a swift collapse of our most precious institutions. The anti-establishment movement is not devoid of risk, but when the status quo is failing, it must be challenged. Embracing these protest movements as opportunities to enact reform is the only way our institutions can endure.
However distinct they may be, the Western world’s growing anti-establishment movements carry a remarkably consistent message. Namely, that our political institutions too often favor a small class of privileged elites, at the expense of average citizens.
For Americans, this view is most evident in Trump’s unlikely rise to the GOP nomination. His signature proposals, after all, reject the establishment belief in increased trade and immigration as unalloyed economic goods.
Similarly, Sanders’s electoral success was based mainly on his willingness to admit the inadequacies of our current economic model.
Both campaigns tapped into the scathing anger of a U.S. middle class that hasn’t seen family income growth in 20 years.
Look overseas, however, and you’ll see the same complaints being lodged by citizens throughout Europe. The U.K.’s decision to exit the European Union last month was the most pronounced expression of anti-establishment discontent to date.
The so-called Brexit vote reflected festering economic frustrations. According to two leading labor economists, anti-EU sentiment reigned in areas that have recently lacked wage growth.
As Nigel Farage, former leader of the U.K. Independence Party, put it, “Brexit” supporters, “rejected the multinationals, they rejected the merchant banks, they rejected big politics and they said actually, we want our country back, we want our fishing waters back, we want our borders back.”
In the end, more than 53 percent of Britons voted to leave the EU. And they did so despite global pleas from everybody from President Obama, to Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, to Prime Minister David Cameron that doing so would wreck the political establishment.
In France, meanwhile, the steady rise of Marine Le Pen, leader of the National Front party, reflects the same growing impatience with the political status quo. Capitalizing on an unemployment rate that’s hovered above 9 percent since the ’80s, Le Pen has long campaigned on a message of stricter immigration laws and Euroskepticism. She has emerged in recent weeks as the leader in France’s 2017 presidential polls.
Italy’s anti-establishment party, the Five Star Movement, is also making enormous gains. Started by comedian Beppe Grillo, the party opposes both globalization and EU membership. According to three new polls [July 6], M5S is now Italy’s most popular political party.
And in the distant Caucuses, the republic of Georgia, where nearly 70 percent of the population claims unemployment, famous opera singer Paata Burchuladze has embarked on a campaign to be the country’s next prime minister. With an endorsement from United States, the newly-established State for the People party aims to “completely change the paradigm of the relations between the people and the state.” As he sees it, Georgia’s political class, specifically the Georgian Dream party, has failed to serve the interests of average people.
He’s tapped into something powerful by challenging leadership that has been accused of imprisoning political foes and attempting to free political prisoners involved in terror acts.
While the policy proposals of each of these movements may vary significantly, the grievances animating these campaigns are broadly similar. Voters are making a deliberate decision to reject an elite ruling class in favor of political outsiders more attuned to the concerns of ordinary citizens.
Far from a threat to the neo-liberal order, these insurgencies may be the key to retaining the integrity of our political systems.
Yuri Vanetik is a Lincoln Fellow at the Claremont Institute and serves on the national board of Gen Next and the Gen Next Foundation.
1,000s Turkish forces surround NATO’s Incirlik air base for ‘inspection’ amid rumors of coup attempt
Hurriyet reported earlier that Adana police had been tipped off about a new coup attempt, and forces were immediately alerted. The entrance to the base was closed off.
Security forces armed with rifles and armored TOMA vehicles used by Turkish riot police could be seen at the site in photos taken by witnesses.
Turkey’s minister for EU Affairs downplayed the situation in a Twitter post, saying a “security inspection” was carried out.
“We did the general security check. There is nothing wrong,” he tweeted from Adana.
Some supporters of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have reportedly flocked to the cordon surrounding the base. The scene, however, did not appear as massive and tense as the recent Adana protests demanding for the base to be shut down.
On Thursday, a huge rally marched towards the NATO base, as people with loudspeakers chanted anti-American and anti-Israel slogans. The demonstrators claim that the US had a hand in the failed July 15 coup attempt in which 270 people died. Tens of thousands people, including members of the military, police, judiciary, media, and civil service, have been arrested in connection with the coup, which Turkish officials say was organized by US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, Erdogan’s former ally, who is now his most hated rival.
In the wake of the coup attempt, several military officials at the Incirlik Air Base, including its commander, General Bekir Ercan Van, were arrested on treason charges by Turkish authorities, which claimed that one of the rogue F-16 planes taking part in the rebellion to overthrow Erdogan’s government had been refueled there.
The general had even reportedly attempted to seek asylum in the US, but his plea was apparently rejected.
Incirlic Air Base is used by both the Turkish and US militaries and is vital to the US-led anti-terror bombing campaign in Syria and Iraq. It also serves as one of six NATO storage sites for US tactical nuclear weapons in Europe. The exact number of nuclear bombs kept at the base is unknown, although, according to various estimates, it may store up to 90 warheads.
The US-led coalition’s airstrikes had to be halted for several days when power was cut at the base. US military personnel stationed there had to switch to an internal power supply.
The “inspection” at the base comes as the Turkish government announced a sweeping military reform on Saturday. In an interview with TV broadcaster A-Haber, Erdogan unveiled plans to scrap all military academies and replace them with a new national defense university.
The commanders of the different branches of the Turkish armed forces are to be put under the defense minister’s chain of command. In addition, Erdogan wants the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) and military chief of staff to report directly to him, which would require a new constitutional amendment to be passed by the parliament.
It also comes on the eve of a visit from a top US military official, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford, who is scheduled to arrive in Turkey on Sunday. Diplomatic sources quoted by Hurriyet claim Dunford will go visit both Ankara and Incirlik.
ISLAMABAD: Afghan Taliban on Saturday claimed their representatives recently visited China to discuss a joint stance against the invasion in Afghanistan and the region.
The Taliban delegation traveled from its Qatar-based political office to China this month, weeks after the group refused to take part in the peace process under a quartet of which Beijing is also a member.
The Express Tribune has learnt that China wants to play an ‘active role’ in the peace negotiations if all sides “agree to this role” as it enjoys good relations with both Afghanistan and Taliban.
“I can confirm that our delegation had visited China to discuss matters between both countries. They discussed the invasion in the region and to adopt a joint stance against the malicious policies of the invading countries,” the Taliban leader said.
“Policies of the Islamic Emirate (Taliban) about the region and the world also came under discussion,” a Taliban official told The Express Tribune on the condition of anonymity.
The official did not make any comment on the possibility of peace talks between the group and the Afghan government. But sources familiar with the visit said both sides “explored prospects” for a political dialogue as Beijing could be an ‘honest broker’ to start the peace process.
Taliban did not share information as to who held talks in China; however, a dissident group says the head of the Taliban political office, Sher Abbas Stanekzai, led the delegation.
Qari Hamza, spokesman for ‘Fidaye Mahaz’ group says the Taliban leaders visited China from July 18 to July 22. “The Taliban leaders held talks with the intelligence officials of China, the US and and foreign countries and reached a deal with them,” Hamza said in a statement sent to The Express Tribune.
Taliban leaders have previously visited China on several occasions while Chinese officials have also met members of the group in Qatar. China had also hosted Taliban officials of the govt-backed High Peace Council in Urumqi earlier last year.
In November last year, China’s special envoy for Afghanistan Deng Xijun told The Express Tribune in Islamabad that China has offered to host a meeting between Afghan government officials and Taliban representatives should the two sides so desire, but refused to ‘mediate’ peace negotiations between them.
Taliban leaders traveled to China weeks after Beijing delivered military equipment to Afghanistan for the first time. The Taliban spokesperson refused to comment on Chinese arms delivery when The Express Tribune sought his reaction on the matter.