The U.S. is experiencing some disruption of its political establishment,
especially since 2016, but now we are seeing a global pattern of
upended political traditions and leadership, and it appears to be
Donald Trump, it seems, was only among the first and perhaps most
notable of this phenomena, but the growing pattern suggests a more
significant circumstance than just a single national political figure.
Nothing seemed to represent post-war conventional politics more than
Europe and its economic association of member states, the European
Union (EU) dominated by Germany, France, United Kingdom and, to
lesser extents, Italy and Spain. In only a short span, the established
political environments of each of these nations has changed drastically,
including most recently and importantly, the announced retirement of
the most powerful EU figure, German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Prior
to that, French politics was transformed by the election of Emmanuel
Macron with his new political party that now dominates the French
parliament. Equivalent political change has happened in Italy and
Spain. The opening salvo seems to have been the British election to
leave the EU (Brexit). All of these EU member nations are now
undergoing periods of instability and challenge from various populist
sources --- the whole of it complicated by the leadership of smaller and
newer EU member states which are opposed to many current EU
The political turbulence is not limited to the U.S. and Europe. Mexico
has just moved to the populist left with a new president, and Brazil
has gone to the populist right with its newly elected leader. Other
major Latin American nations, including Argentina, Colombia and
Venezuela are in various political turmoil.
Russia is reasserting its imperialism in Eastern Europe and Asia,
the two continents it spans, and an aggressive China is asserting itself
not only close to home in Asia, but also in Africa and South America.
Small in population, but a whole continent in size (and so strategically
located) Australia has just seen new instability in its government, and
elsewhere in the Pacific Ocean region, transformational forces are at
play in the Korean peninsula, the Philippines and Japan.
New and controversial leadership in pivotal Saudi Arabia has appeared,
and the long-time leadership of Israel is under attack now not only
from outside, but also politically from within. Turkey and Iran continue
to try to destabilize their region.
In short, change, provocation and grassroots turmoil are rather
suddenly almost everywhere.
Lamenting all of this with aspirations for a return to the old order of
the world is likely the least effective response. History does not often,
if ever, yield examples of the world going back to paradigms just
abandoned. Human societies and their governments are in constant
transformation, and if indeed there is peril in what is now changing,
there is also a profound need for some new thinking by those who lead
and administer what has been often called the”free world.”
I suggest that, beneath all the rhetoric now to come in the U.S. political
campaigns just ahead, in 2020 and 2024, it is some critical new thinking
that we need most of all.
Copyright (c) 2018 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.