Editorials

Merely a Pretext

Liberals say they believe in democracy, meaning government that represents and listens to the people whose instrument it is supposed to be.  Yet democratic governments today clearly do not listen to the people, if “listening” means trying to understand what they have to say.

The most obvious current example of Western politicians’ willful deafness to, and deliberate misunderstanding of, the popular will is their response to what they dismiss as “far right” and “extremist” political movements in Europe.  Spokesmen for these movements have articulated their concerns very precisely to power.  Among these are the lack of adequate political representation, at home and in Brussels; increasing economic inequality; austerity; unemployment; the mass immigration from Third World countries that aggravates the employment problem while subverting and diluting ancestral cultures; and now the terrorism that immigration and the Schengen Agreement facilitate, and the refusal of national governments to employ the means necessary to protect citizens against attack, or even promise to try.  Yet the politicians have refused to heed the “populists,” and will continue to ignore them and their demands so long as it is possible for them to do so.  This is partly because they think themselves finally immune to popular sentiment, partly because they believe their constituents’...

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