Who killed the liberal dream? (Spoiler: it wasn’t ‘fake news’)
At what fucking point are we going to concede that “people just need to be better and read less fake news” is an irrational centrist dream, and no kind of solution at all? Helen Razer asks the question.
“The centre is not holding,” wrote Ross Douthat in the New York Times in July. He is one of thousands of commentators who have lived since the time of Yeats to pillage a famous poem, and one of millions to notice this year that faith in the centre of politics had evaporated. That vote shares for centrist parties in the West are diminishing as fast as ultra-nationalists can claim them is a terrible fact. Douthat’s solution to this state — wait and say “may this cup of crisis pass from us, and soon” — is a terrible, and terribly common, fantasy.
Douthat offers a “reality check” to readers and reminds them that things aren’t that bad. Certainly, not so bad as to warrant the mainstreaming of radical, racist isolationism. Very concisely, he expresses a centrist frustration with the rise that buoys Trump, Le Pen, Hanson, etc. In short, these people are maniacs, and if we wait long enough, quote enough Joan Didion and remind people that things aren’t bad enough to justify their bad electoral behaviour, the maniacs will be returned to the asylum.