It is the hollowed-out condition of the “mainstream” parties which allows the shrill, noisy and wealthy to dominate. In 2020, we should repoliticise politicsby Cas Mudde / December 6, 2019 / Leave a comment
For the past decade, mainstream politicians across the world have struggled to cope with the far right. But so far, too much of that battle has been against the nativists rather than for liberal democracy.
It is high time to develop coherent and comprehensive liberal democratic responses to both the anti-political politics of technocracy and the über-political politics of populism. While most political traditions bowed to the gods of “the market” in the last two decades of the past century, they have increasingly pandered to the (homogeneous) “voice of the people” in the first two decades of this century. The 2020s require a new approach.
What I hope all mainstream political traditions will do is to rediscover the strengths of liberal democracy, and also think more carefully about the best balance between majority rule and minority rights. We have to learn to defend liberal democracy by explaining why it is the best political system we have at this time. Crucial to this debate is reclaiming the term “minority.” It should not apply exclusively to “ethnic” or “religious” groups. People need to understand that anyone can be—or become—a minority in time, and that only liberal democracy will always protect your fundamental rights—irrespective of whether you are part of the majority or a minority.
Similarly, we need to think anew about where the limits of the liberal democratic system truly lie. Criticism of policies and the way things are run is integral to it. But some positions attack the root of the system, and so cannot be accommodated within it. For instance, while the closing of borders to Muslim immigrants might be morally abhorrent, and practically impossible, it does not in itself undermine the liberal democratic system. Taking away rights from citizens because they happen to be Muslim, or from some other religion, does. Likewise, weakening the independence of the media or judiciary, attacks the foundation of liberal democracy and should be non-negotiable for any party—of any persuasion, in any circumstances—if it is to be a valid part of that system.
Beyond this, each political tradition should be rethinking its own ideological core in the new decade. The task is to unearth the intellectual foundations of the past and apply them to present and…