How many of today’s major political issues would still rank as major political issues if the objections of concerned voters had been genuinely listened to before overshoot terrain was entered? Precisely. Very few. This is one of several key reasons I am convinced our politically tumultuous times require a much greater respect for the collective wisdom inherent in voter verdicts. As well as resetting in a back-to-basics vein. I am equally convinced that political stability and positive growth prospects can return quickly if following, yes, a back-to-basics agenda. And that continued political and economic instability is guaranteed as long as we fail to do so. If doing things right there is in fact a golden opportunity to move forward in a way that, for the first time ever, fully respects the concerns both of those recently disempowered in relative terms (the working class) and those recently empowered in relative terms (ethnic minorities, women, sexual minorities).
I am ideologically independent per definition while a believer in realism and political balance rather than in the individual superiority of any political ideology. Why? Because sound politics requires balancing acts. History leaves little doubt that overreach typically follows any political camp dominating the political scene over a stretch of time. This was not only proven by right-wingers pre-democracy and left-wingers in the 1970s. It is also proven in real time, for those willing to see it, by today’s Centrists. If following this line of reasoning it is indeed easy to conclude that most major political problems today are rooted not in Centrism per se – but in Centrist overshoot.
A speech clip in which I suggest the key reason Denmark, Norway and Finland have all outclassed Sweden during the coronavirus crisis. Speech delivered on September 12 during a Nordic conference, in beautiful Swedish town Kungälv, on how Nordic EU relations are influenced by the coronavirus crisis. The Pan-Nordic School (Nordiska Folkhögskolan) has luckily replaced the once proud Bohus Fortress as the center of town activity. The School is an embodiment of the fact that democratic erosion is not necessary in order to co-operate successfully across borders. In Swedish with English subtitles.
This overshoot can at first be tricky to spot. How so? Because the overshoot has not followed as a consequence of either deliberate planning or widely discussed great-leap initiatives. Instead it has followed through the accumulated effect of many small steps. Individually most of these steps have usually been enacted in good faith: “Of course we care and need to do just a little bit more; no need to fuss”. Taken together, however, these actions have certainly affected society in major ways. As well as moved society way beyond a clear voter mandate. Which is why there is now controversy surrounding just about every so called progressive hobby horse. Including the EU, open borders, the cheap money paradigm, the globalist (lobbyist) economy, the gender fluidity concept as well as the “safe space” university mentality. The latter mentality implies that students should not have to be exposed to “upsetting views”. Meaning almost always, in practice, views of a non-Centrist nature. This politicisation problem within the education sphere helps to explain why, still to this day, there is little academic discussion surrounding the Centrist overshoot situation. And why students are now regularly allowed to “deplatform” non-Centrists.
If really listening to the voter majority concerns these relate to the overshoot – and the overshoot only. Yet numerous Centrist politicians, while still not acknowledging their part in this overshoot mess, continue to insist on branding voters as radicals. Thereby inflaming the counteraction yet further. There really is no need to be surprised we are now experiencing the deepest establishment-vs-the people divide since the democratic breakthrough.
Given that the right action is taken there should be little doubt that the future can be bright. Despite the current divide between the establishment camp and the people camp there is, even today, much more that unites than divides the majority on both sides. Those trying to protect the status quo will, as always, will work hard to claim otherwise, by demonising every argument made by the opposition. Still, at the end of the day the vast majority, on both sides of the divide, wants pretty much the same things. Including an intact democracy, extensive international co-operation, prudent monetary policies, gender equality as well as an honest and respectful public debate. What most arguments are about is how to achieve the objectives, not the objectives themselves. Meaning that, if we start focusing more on our mutual goals, we really can regain mutual respect – and reunite.
This also means that we, in fact, are well positioned to relive, figuratively, the 1914 Christmas truce moment. The moment when German and allied soldiers shook hands on the battle field despite the quarrels initiated by unelected political paternalists. However, in 1914 war resumed already the following day. Why? Because all the paternalists responsible for the war were still in charge. Which is why we now need to make sure that politics is no longer hijacked by top-down-thinkers. Those who do not see the irony when exploiting the-better together argument while simultaneously treating concerned voters with, yes, paternalist condescension.
Temporarily the road has to be bumpy because strongly institutionalised opinions are never abandoned willingly. However, due to building voter pressure there is every reason to think that, despite all the smoke and dust, real democracy is now reasserting itself. This means that also political stability is about to be restored. Political parties rising to the task by navigating these waters correctly can in a fundamental way speed up this process.