After Intersectionalism

The divisive racial ideology that dominated American politics for the past decade is dying. Led by minority activists and white progressives, “woke” ideology promoted a Manichean struggle between a coalition of the BIPOC, an acronym for “Black, Indigenous, and people of color” (assumed to be natural allies) against what the BIPOC Project calls a hegemonic system of “white supremacy, patriarchy and capitalism.” But this vision of Black and white racial conflict, while still influential in universities and elite institutions, keeps getting rejected by American voters—as happened in political referendums on issues like policing and immigration, and most recently in the triumph of “normies” and centrists in the midterm elections.

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Now watch Biden and Trudeau Escalate their Extreme Progressivism

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is likely to draw some encouragement from Tuesday’s U.S. midterms. Despite running an unpopular government, wand a weak economy, President Joe Biden’s party, which shares many views with Canada’s Liberals, out-performed all expectations and has kept the Republican “red tide” at bay, at least for now.

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Living up to the “Left Coast” Name

The “left coast” mostly lived up to its name during the midterms, though occasional signs of dissent could be seen. In California, Governor Gavin Newsom won big, and the GOP saw no major statewide successes. California controller candidate Lanhee Chen, the rare Republican endorsed by virtually every major newspaper, barely did better than his hapless GOP running mates in a loss. In Oregon, Christine Drazan failed to make it to the governor’s mansion, despite Portland’s ongoing meltdown and a spirited race. And in Washington, speculation about a closer-than-expected Senate race proved wrong. Read more

The Democrats’ False Victory

For all their cautious optimism earlier this week, a mild Midterms victory may prove the last thing the Democrats need. If they had performed as predicted, the Democrats and their media adjuncts would now be busily dissecting their defeat. But what has to be considered a lost Republican opportunity — gaining little in a country where lifespans are now dropping — also means that the Democrats will be slower to address their weaknesses, and may be forced to accept the unpopular Joe Biden as their leader in 2024.

With no sign of a Republican resurgence, the Democrats will likely be lulled into thinking that Biden’s polarising agenda is a vote-winner, in the same way the conspiracy-minded MAGA wing of the GOP refuses to move on from 2020. Until it’s resoundingly disproved in the ballot box, stridency tends to whip up your base: Trump’s supporters have become, as the President suggested, “semi-fascist”, while his political mentor, South Carolina’s James Clyburn, goes further, decrying the GOP as the architects of a Nazi state.

When Democrats performed poorly in the past, they were forced to rethink their politics. After Walter Mondale suffered a landslide defeat to Reagan in 1984, the Democratic Leadership Council was set up to steer the ship towards the centre — and ultimately supported both a young Bill Clinton and, to an extent, Biden himself. In turn, the DLC was inspired by the moderate Coalition for a Democratic Majority, founded after Nixon’s trouncing of McGovern in 1972. Today, however, it’s hard to say that now is the time for a new political vision when virtually all the high-profile blue state Democrats won, sometimes by wider than expected margins.

So, rather than using the next two years to regroup and craft a political programme that could win the next election, the Democrats now appear stuck with a weak leader who appears unfit to deal with the global challenges that will define America in the coming decade. Internally, too, the Democrats look increasingly unstable. A stronger-than-expected Midterms performance doesn’t mask the fact that the progressives remain a dominant faction in the party — with an associated agenda that, outside of deep blue-college towns and core cities, commands remarkably low levels of support, as Barack Obama and others have warned.

Sticking to such a programme threatens the party’s already weakening hold on working-class voters, in particular those threatened by climate policies. Over time, the economic implications of Biden’s green agenda may be obvious, but for now they are hidden amid massive deficits and increased transfer payments. However, as Democratic strategist Ruy Teixeira has noted, in the longer run, the party’s emphasis on “de-growth” and austerity is unlikely to attract middle and particularly working-class voters. Already, the political implications of climate policy have ruined the Democrats’ best chance to take the GOP seat in Ohio. Their candidate Tim Ryan may have claimed to support fracking, but his backing of the Pelosi Congressional agenda proved disastrous in a state whose economy is fueled by natural gas production and hopes to attract new investment, including a possible $20 billion new Intel chip plant in the Columbus suburbs. In Florida, meanwhile, Ron DeSantis won heavily in Latino, historically Democratic regions.

Read the rest of this piece at UnHerd.

Joel Kotkin is the author of The Coming of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class. He is the Roger Hobbs Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University and Executive Director for Urban Reform Institute. Learn more at and follow him on Twitter @joelkotkin.

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore via Flickr under CC 2.0 License.

A Tale of Two Americas

Tuesday’s Midterms were not a victory for conservative or progressive ideology, but an assertion of the growing power of geography in American politics. It was less a national election than a clash of civilizations.

Virtually nowhere in blue areas did Republicans make gains. Both the north-east and California – the central players in Democratic Party politics – stayed solidly blue. Even the most well-regarded GOP candidates, such as Lanhee Chen who ran for California state controller, struggled to make inroads in Democratic territory.

Meanwhile, the senators and governors of the leading red states – Texas’s Greg Abbott, Georgia’s Brian Kemp, Florida’s Ron DeSantis, Ohio’s Mike DeWine – all won handily. Almost all blue-state governors remained the same as well, although the Democratic incumbents often won by smaller margins.

So, what is happening in this increasingly inexplicable country? Essentially, there are now two prevailing realities in the US. One is primarily urban, single and, despite some GOP gains in this demographic, still largely non-white. It functions on the backs of finance, tech and the service industries. The other is largely suburban or exurban, family centric and more likely involved in basic industries like manufacturing, logistics, agriculture and energy.

Usually, the media assume these two Americas represent equally viable political economies. But this is increasingly not the case. In population terms at least, red America is now growing far more rapidly than blue America. And this makes it more important politically. Since 1990, Texas has gained eight congressional seats, Florida five and Arizona three. In contrast, New York has lost five, Pennsylvania four and Illinois three. California, which now suffers higher net outbound-migration rates than most Rustbelt states, lost a congressional seat in 2020 for the first time in its history.

Geography is increasingly a factor in U.S. politics

This decline in blue America has accelerated since the pandemic, due to rising crime and the availability of remote work. Last year, New York, California and Illinois lost more people to outbound migration than all other states. Demographer Wendell Cox notes that the largest percentage loss of residents has occurred in big core cities such as New York City, Chicago and San Francisco. In contrast, population burgeoned in sprawling areas such as Phoenix, Dallas and Orlando.

The future of the GOP depends on the continued growth of such places, as well as the growth of suburbia nationwide. Between 2010 and 2020, 51 major metropolitan areas lost 2.7million net domestic migrants from their most central counties, while suburban counties gained two million people. The Midterms show that Republicans are gaining ground in these largely suburban areas – particularly in Florida, as well as suburban Phoenix, the outskirts of Atlanta, the Houston exurbs, largely suburban Nashville, the sprawling Virginia Beach area and suburban Detroit. Democrats, where they made gains yesterday, tended to be in places like California, where the Republican Party has all but ceased to exist.

Read the rest of this piece at Spiked.

Joel Kotkin is the author of The Coming of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class. He is the Roger Hobbs Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University and Executive Director for Urban Reform Institute. Learn more at and follow him on Twitter @joelkotkin.

Chart: Abdullah Ali Abbasi via Wikimedia under CC 4.0 License.

West Coast Blues

Few regions have been more consistently Democratic than the West Coast. Even compared with the Northeast, where Republicans occasionally win governors’ offices, the appropriately named “left coast” has been adamantine in its progressivism. Republicans haven’t won statewide office in California in years; in Oregon, it’s decades. Washington has elected a Republican secretary of state, but she now serves in the Biden administration. And the region’s major cities are overwhelmingly blue.

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Biden, Trudeau Choose Green War on Oil and Gas Over Working Class

Canadians, outside of dual citizens, can’t vote in America’s midterms, but the results may well shape the country’s trajectory in the years to come.

The current crisis around inflation, a probable recession, rising heating costs and electricity prices, with increases in Canada of upwards of 50 percent or more, as well soaring food prices are clearly shaped by global forces. But the economic crisis also has roots in the well-financed green movement’s war on fossil fuels. These turn out to be critical to such industries as manufacturing and logistics while the drive to ban natural gas based fertilizers constitutes a gun at the head at the farms that feed the world.

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The Real American Divide

Elections are never easy to predict. But whatever the outcome of America’s Midterms next month, it does seem certain that vast swathes of the American electorate will be largely ignored. In state after state, voters face a Hobson’s choice between abortion-banning, election-denying Trump loyalists on the one hand and Democrats embracing the Biden administration’s unpopular economic and cultural agenda on the other.

November’s election will introduce a new crop of politicians who are either themselves on the ideological extremes, or who at least feel compelled to placate their party’s most intemperate elements. A Republican victory in November seems set to continue this pattern: there are proposals for extreme abortion bans and calls for the impeachment of top administration officials, and there is also a growing personal focus on Biden’s family scandals and, of course, Trumpista election denial.

But instead of appealing to extremes, America should return to a simpler politics centered on what the Swedish sociologist Gunnar Myrdal calls ‘the American creed’. This, he explains, is Americans’ ‘abiding sense that every individual, regardless of circumstances, deserves fairness and the opportunity to realise [his or her] unlimited potential’. Given America’s ideological, regional and racial diversity, we can best address the ‘American dilemma’ by adopting pragmatism as a guiding philosophy.

America’s current ideological fixations are partly the result of the party primary system. Here the extremes tend to exercise more power, especially with the rise of ideologically purist Political Action Committees (PACs), which feed off discord and dysfunction. They prefer to focus on their opponents’ failings rather than their own ideas. Ironically, this negative partisanship has been made worse by the Democrats’ cynical support for far-right Republican candidates. On the grounds that an unpopular opponent would galvanise their own base, they supported Kari Lake in the Arizona primary, which Lake won in August. Now the Republican candidate for governor of Arizona, Lake, who is ahead in the polls, is accused by Democrats of being a ‘threat to democracy’.

These cabals of party activists and operatives thrive in conditions where the media – with good reason – are distrusted. Indeed, almost all major institutions, from corporations to the military, the FBI, the education sector and even churches have lost public support. This is made worse by petty tyrants like speaker of the house Nancy Pelosi, senate majority leader Charles Schumer and his Republican counterpart, Kentucky senator Mitch McConnell. Each demands Stalinist conformity in votes in the House, meaning that representatives must always parrot the same line, even if that damages their constituents.

Politicians’ ideological partisanship reflects a growing gap between the political class and the bulk of the population. Half of Democrats, for instance, still consider themselves moderate or conservative, while only 15 per cent see themselves as ‘very liberal’. Another study found that in US society as a whole, ‘traditional’ and ‘passive’ liberals outnumber the eight per cent who are ‘progressive activists’ by three to one. Meanwhile, there are almost six times as many ‘traditional conservatives’ and ‘moderates’ than ‘devoted’ right-wingers, who comprise just six per cent of the population. Overall, according to a Gallup poll last month, 43 per cent of Americans now identify as independent, which is more than those identifying as either Republican or Democrat.

So while most Americans are moderate and pragmatic, they are often stuck with two unpalatable alternatives. Fewer than 10 per cent identify as either ‘very conservative’ or ‘very liberal’. Yet, as University of Chicago political scientist Anthony Fowler notes, moderates ‘are silent in no small part because in political surveys, the public is often not given the opportunity to express its moderate views’.

Read the rest of this piece at Spiked.

Joel Kotkin is the author of The Coming of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class. He is the Roger Hobbs Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University and Executive Director for Urban Reform Institute. Learn more at and follow him on Twitter @joelkotkin.

Photo: Tom Arthur via Flickr, under CC 2.0 License.

From Boris to Trump, Yesterday’s Men Won’t Go Away

Boris Johnson may not be the UK’s next Prime Minister, but he could easily become the Tory choice after the party’s likely drubbing whenever the next general election happens. Or perhaps earlier, if the party disintegrates ahead of schedule once again.

Johnson’s return, although now delayed, will reflect a growing political tendency around the world to keep bringing back the old warhorses of bygone eras. Even in Israel, former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, 73, seems primed to return to the office he held for a record-breaking 15 years.

The most important retreads, however, are in the US, where the two likely presidential contenders are President Biden, who will be well over 80 at the time of the election, and Donald Trump, who is already 76 years old. Neither one of these figures are particularly popular — their approval ratings tend to be in the low 40s or below — but they have nonetheless captured much of their party apparatus.

The reasons for this phenomena are complex, but reflect a torpor in our political culture which, like Hollywood, feels more secure with reruns than original ideas. Well-known politicians, even ones like Donald Trump, benefit from constant news coverage that newcomers can only fantasise about. The big money people often follow the media and notoriety, and usually back candidates with significant name recognition.

President Biden, the ultimate political retread, epitomises this trend. He was virtually nobody’s favourite candidate in 2020 yet the oligarchs who dominate Democratic politics feared the rise of the openly socialist Bernie Sanders and his slightly less dogmatic rival Elizabeth Warren. In the end, party grandees and big money interests took the less risky option and picked the cognitively deficient ancient mariner from Delaware as the party candidate.

In the general election, Biden was a somewhat calmer alternative to the toxic Donald Trump. His campaign was simple: hide in the basement, say little or nothing of substance, and let Trump suck up the news cycle. But now, it look as though we are going to have a repeat. Trump still inspires huge amounts of support among the GOP base, and he can count on 30-40% of the vote. What we could witness, ultimately, is a rerun where both candidates are disliked by a strong majority of Americans.

Trump is a master of self-promotion and seeks to reduce everyone else to a footnote, something the Democrat-friendly media is sure to emphasise. This is not a good strategy in the midterms, in which the media will make Trump the issue rather than the clearly incompetent man occupying the White House, as Barack Obama has pointed out. On the other hand, when on the ballot Trump may serve as the best means for the Democrats, bearing the burden of an unraveling economy, to keep control of the White House.

Of course, not all retreads are from the Anglosphere. Xi Jinping, already 69, has essentially appointed himself dictator for life. In Brazil, Lula is likely to be re-elected — after serving in prison for corruption. Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin remains in office at the age of 70 and may stay there unless he is purged from within. It turns out that old politicians are hard to get rid of, whatever their politics, except by death.

This piece first appeared at UnHerd.

Joel Kotkin is the author of The Coming of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class. He is the Roger Hobbs Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University and Executive Director for Urban Reform Institute. Learn more at and follow him on Twitter @joelkotkin.

Photo: Whitehouse45 via Flickr, in Public Domain.

Ohio and the Battle for Populist America

This midterm year, in which many states have to choose between non-entities and the certifiably insane, Ohio is blessed by a real political dogfight. The Senate battle between representative Tim Ryan and Hillbilly Elegy author, JD Vance, is becoming one for the ages.

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