Friends: I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but I gave it to you straight last summer when I told you that Donald Trump would be the Republican nominee for president. And now I have even more awful, depressing news for you: Donald J.
To put the important things first: I m a profound European, from my mind-set an unconditional liberal person and my family lives close to Nice/France.
We are going to bed with yet another terror attack in France. With an incredible number of innocent people dead and thousands of inhabitants and tourists who were present at the site heavily traumatized. Whoever is still astonished, shocked, afraid or excited about Trump becoming presidential candidate, Britain leaving the EU or Rome being led by an anti-establishment populist movement: prepare for more and faster. Welcome to a period of an in-depth mid-life crisis of Western democracies after an un-precedented period of post WW2 stability. Poor economic development, uncontrolled immigration, terror attacks and weak Western leadership, all is somehow linked with each other. In one point Trump is a 100% right: We need to declare unconditional war on terrorism.
Although fundamentally against these developments, there is one part of me, which is welcoming and flirting with the recent Brexit vote, hoping for a right wing President in Austria and welcoming the cry for stronger Government. Sounds familiar to you? How is this possible? Because we need and we deserve better political leadership in our countries, to address the real problems in our societies and not shy away from conflicts. We are sick of posing another solidarity message on the diverse social media, in the meantime I am Charlie, Paris, Nice, Brussels, Istanbul, who is next in the line of the fire??
Political elites need to address three main developments, otherwise we will see more and stronger nationalist movements destroy the very foundation of our liberal world:
(1) Failure of delivering on the Better-Off promise.
An ever smaller percentage of the population is bearing the burden of tax and social security payments. It is the ones who cannot move their work, income or capital our of their country, who are the betrayed ones. The famous middle class is losing out fast, no chance to build a home, no chance to build a wealth cushion fro retirement. Same on corporate side: The local, small and mid size companies, who cannot move their operations or income streams to tax havens, are the ones who are paying. The Googles, Amazons, and Apples are denying to pay their share for the development of our societies.
We need to have a major overhaul of tax and social security systems to bring back perceived justice to the ordinary tax payer.
(2) Failure of delivering on the Power Monopoly promise.
The citizens have a constitutional right of protection. If the Government gives up the monopoly of power, there is no right for it to continue and people will vote for strong leaders, automatically. How can it be, that we accept uncontrolled immigration? How can it be, that police does not dare to enter certain quarters in Brussels/Belgium, Paris/France or Cologne/Germany? Why do we still allow hate preachers in our countries? Why do we have open borders while our intelligence services and police of the diverse countries are still to proud and closed to co-operate? Why are home and street burglaries increasing so much, without counter-measures? Why is it so easy to buy explosives and firearms ons street markets in the heart of Europe and drugs through the internet?
Liberal rights an open-minded thinking can only flourish in an environment of perceived safety. And we need that perceived safety back fast.
We need to strengthen our security and safety on all levels. We need to solve conflicts to the end and not create deeper conflicts by lacking the perseverance to go through to the end.
Liberalism does not mean to allow other people destroy your home.
(3) Lack of Enthusiasm
The rise of populist leaders and movements is exploiting these two truths as they promise quick fixes, which of course do not exist. We can and should expect from political leaders answers to these truths, otherwise they will be swiped away (and right so), and we will see more and more Brexit and Nice wake-up calls. Trump, Farage and Le Pen have another common feature. They bring their agenda forward with energy and enthusiasm, and they fight for it, and they play with old and new media. They occupy the news stream and dominate the discussions. In our times, personalities and psychology matter more than political parties. The traditional party systems will lose more and more ground until they realize this development, it might be too late.
We deserve better leaders, who are not softened through twenty years of party hierarchy, but combine common sense, with energy, courage and vision. Western democracies are in a mid life crisis and if we do not address the underlying developments and try to build a next generation modern societal contract, we might see development we would not have thought possible a few years ago. But do not forget, we are all part of it.