Right and left insurgencies in the 2016 U.S. election spooked the bi-partisan Establishment. Gareth Porter explains how they are responding.
By Gareth Porter
The two most powerful think tanks in Washington, representing center-left and center-right political elites, have responded to the populist shocks of the 2016 presidential election by trying to reposition themselves and the Democratic and Republican Parties as more sympathetic to populist concerns even while maintaining their attachments to the interests of big business and the complex of war-making.
The Center for American Progress (CAP), linked to the Democratic Party establishment, and the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), which is close to the Republican Party, have issued two long papers in recent months reflecting their high anxiety over the rapid growth of populism on both sides of the Atlantic — especially in light of the shocking success of both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump against Hillary Clinton and mainstream Republicans during the 2016 presidential election cycle.
But the papers suggest that neither organization is ready to depart from the economic and military policies preferred by the powerful elites that still control the two major parties. And the more recent paper attacks Jill Stein and Bernie Sanders for being insufficiently hawkish in regard to Russia and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
An initial joint paper published on May 10 urged the two parties to make far-reaching changes in policy and operations, citing their “need to recognize that they are in a moment of crisis — a moment that could portend a long-term realignment — and develop a strategy for managing change.” It also warned that they “got into the current crisis by seeming indifferent to the concerns that drive constituencies drawn to extreme populists.”
The authors of that paper further identified a series of “striking commonalities” between left-wing and right-wing populism in the United States regarding attitudes toward key issues: “deep suspicion of America’s overseas military actions; alarm about the rise of a surveillance state; mistrust of major institutions; and…