Was Trump’s 2016 Victory a Historical Inevitability?

A new study combining historical data on demography and ideology in 21 Western democracies implies that the rise of right-wing populists like former President Donald Trump and events like Brexit “were not an abrupt departure from precedent, but rather the consequence of a 60-year-old international trend,” The Economist writes. In other words, the paper, co-authored by Thomas Piketty, Amory Gethin, and Clara Martinez-Toledano, makes Trump’s 2016 election victory “look like a historical inevitability.”

The main finding of the paper — which like any academic study has its critics — is that “income and education began diverging as predictors of ideology” decades ago. Back in 1955, for example, “both the richest and the most educated voters tended to support conservative parties,” while “poorer and less-educated people mostly chose labor or social-democratic” parties. But over time, and with “striking” consistency, the most highly-educated voters moved toward the left-wing parties, while those with less schooling “slid the other way.” The wealthiest voters maintained their support of conservative parties, giving the right a “coalition” of the rich and those with less education, paving the way for politics as you know them today.

Left parties in many countries have exchanged support from low-education voters for high-education voters since 1970, but without becoming parties of the rich; the right in many places has become a coalition of the rich & the uneducatedhttps://t.co/deJj8dhcWJ pic.twitter.com/sBdZpUnfrO— Matt Grossmann (@MattGrossmann) May 29, 2021

The shift appears to be global, Michigan State University’s Matt Grossman noted on Twitter, but the United States “stands out as moving from almost no left/right division on education and a large division on income in 1970 to a large division on education and almost no division on income by 2010.”

Christian Pulisic made U.S. men’s soccer history again on Saturday when he became the first American player ever to appear in, and susbequently win, a Champions League final.

The 22-year-old Pulisic, an attacking midfielder, came on in the second half for Chelsea, who defeated fellow Premier League team, Manchester City, 1-0, behind a first half goal from Kai Havertz off an assist by Mason Mount. 

Pulisic, who scored in a semifinal match last month, nearly found the back of the net again after he subbed in, but he didn’t seem too shaken up about the near-miss once time was called.

The moment Christian Pulisic became the first male American to play in and win a European Cup 🏆 pic.twitter.com/XD7ahuTkiP— Champions League on CBS Sports (@UCLonCBSSports) May 29, 2021

CNN’s Jim Acosta on Saturday, while discussing Senate Republicans’ decision to block the formation of a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, said the GOP is shielding former President Donald Trump from his role in the incident, and added that some members even “sound as if the rebellion hasn’t ended.” 

CNN then played a clip of Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) saying the “Second Amendment is about maintaining within the citizenry the ability to maintain an armed rebellion against the government if that becomes necessary.” When the camera cut back to the studio, a dejected Acosta lamented the fact that Gaetz and “his partner in slime [Rep.] Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) have been traveling the country, inciting their crowds.”

CNN’s Jim Acosta refers to Marjorie Taylor Greene as Matt Gaetz’s partner in slime. pic.twitter.com/pccU5unGay— Sarah Reese Jones (@PoliticusSarah) May 29, 2021

The United States on Friday moved to sanction Belarus following the forced diversion of a commercial Ryanair flight and arrest of a dissident journalist, Roman Protasevich, who was a passenger on the plane. Various other governments have rebuked Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and his regime in the wake of the incident, as well, and while he recently warned the harsh responses could spark another world war, he seemed unfazed on Saturday while he was hanging out with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Intercepting the Ryanair flight indicated that Lukashenko — who, prior to arresting Protasevich, spent months cracking down on protests against his regime — was prepared to forego any appearance of ties with the European Union, and his meet-up with Putin did little to dispel that theory. The two were filmed, in what has been described as a (mostly inaudible) “painfully forced PR show,” conversing jovially on Putin’s yacht near Sochi, as they watched dolphins and had a meal with Lukashenko’s son.

Lukashenko’s team released a completely inaudible video from his meeting with Putin aboard Putin’s yacht in Sochi. Lukashenko was accompanied by his son, which just makes the painfully forced PR show even more awkward. https://t.co/z9EOf9eLle— Bianna Golodryga (@biannagolodryga) May 29, 2021

Putin and Lukashenko bro-ing out in Sochi today, enjoying some dolphins from the deck of the Russian president’s yacht. Meanwhile, dozens of political prisoners caught up in their crackdowns are languishing in Russian and Belarusian jails. pic.twitter.com/Xc9D1iCkRo— Christopher Miller (@ChristopherJM) May 29, 2021

Iran-backed militias are using “small, fixed-wing drones that fly too low to be picked up by defensive systems” in Iraq, U.S. military officials and diplomats told The Washington Post.

One of the drone strikes reportedly targeted a CIA hangar in April. No one was harmed, but a preliminary analysis of its partially-recovered remains suggests it was made in Iran, worrying the White House and the Pentagon, which are already on high alert over rocket strikes on American-populated bases. Alberto Miguel Fernandez, the vice president of the Middle East Media Research Institute and a longtime American diplomat, tweeted Saturday that the news isn’t all that surprising given that Tehran has already armed “other proxies in Yemen, Lebanon, and Gaza with drone technology,” but he said the real question is how the U.S. will respond.

Per the Post, some U.S. officials “advocated serious consideration of a military response” before the Biden administration decided against it. One Iraqi solider stationed at an airbase that was targeted in a similar attack in May told the Post “the coalition was very upset” and “told our commanders that it was a major escalation.” But Daniel DePetris of Defense Priorities, a national security think tank in Washington, D.C., thinks the revelation should expedite the U.S.’s full exit from Iraq. 

“But that’s exactly what Iran and its proxies want,” many will say. True. But U.S. policymakers shouldn’t be making decisions based on optics. They should be basing them on U.S. interests. And at this point, the U.S. force presence is more of a liability than a necessity.— Daniel DePetris (@DanDePetris) May 29, 2021

At this point, he argues, the U.S. military can’t resolve the issues in the region and “the longer U.S. forces remain in Iraq, the more likely one of these rocket attacks will eventually kill or seriously injure a U.S. service member or contractor. The U.S. would be forced to respond militarily, which would kick off a cycle of escalation none of us want,” DePetris tweeted. Read more at The Washington Post.

Former New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean (R), the former chair of the 9/11 Commission, weighed in on Republican senators’ decision to block the creation of a similar exploration of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. “It saddens me because there was no real, public reason for turning it down,” he told The Guardian. “I guess some people were scared of what they’d find out. That’s not a good reason for turning it down.”

Kean and his vice chair, former Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-Fla.) aren’t viewing the news in a vacuum, however. Hamilton told USA Today that any investigation can get off-track, but “if you follow the arguments of the opponents, we would never investigate anything,” while Kean added that “if we can’t do it for this one, can we do it for [the handling COVID-19 pandemic]? That’s very sad.” In short, he told PBS NewsHour, Congress is  setting the precedent that it is “incapable of telling the American people the truth about something very important that happened.” Read more at The Guardian, USA Today, and PBS NewsHour.

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