The Greater Electoral Cycle

If you’re in your mid-30s, and start feeling like you’ve seen it all before, it’s because you have

Many commentators like to talk about what they call the electoral cycle. This refers to the fact that, in the vast majority of modern liberal democracies, a party coming to power inevitably soon hits a high point and then steadily loses support over time until they are ousted. This essay looks at a broader phenomenon that we will call the Greater Electoral Cycle.

The Lesser Electoral Cycle is the one that most people, by now, are well familiar with. A party or President comes to power, immediately makes the changes that the previous regime had neglected to make, then rides a wave of popular support, until inevitably their own lust to cling onto power at all costs causes them to make poor moral decisions and the voters throw them out in disgust.

In the old days, this expulsion of the previous rulers could lead to any kind of new philosophy or ideology taking its place. If the previous rulers weren’t good enough, try fascism, try democracy, try republicanism, try anarchy. So there was no real greater cycle beyond this. It was just come to power and cling to power for as long as possible.

In recent decades, now that the ruling classes have refined and perfected their strategies for dividing and brainwashing us, all we get is neoliberalism with a red mask or neoliberalism with a blue one. The Greater Electoral Cycle, then, is from the start of one government to the start of another government of that kind (i.e centre-right or centre-left).

New greater cycles begin all the time. One has just now begun after 16 years in America, and one has begun after 18 years in New Zealand. Because of this, anyone with a memory that goes back 20 years or so has by now heard all the arguments and excuses already, and is starting to hear them again. Political arguments, like fashions and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, are simply repackaged every generation for a new audience not exposed to them yet.

For example, Internet commentators often make reference to Trump Derangement Syndrome. This is a joke referring to the reactions of people on the left to the election of Donald Trump as American President. The idea is that many leftists have reacted so badly to the news of Trump’s ascendancy that they have essentially become clinically deranged.

Those who have been around a bit longer remember that this as Obama Derangement Syndrome, which is essentially the same thing but triggered by the sight of Barack Obama as President. Those of us as old as Generation X might even remember everyone talking about Bush Derangement Syndrome, and there might have been a Clinton Derangement Syndrome before that.

A lot of Millennials have now observed that Trump is little different from George W Bush in a lot of ways, and the Democrats’ reactions to him are very similar to their reactions to Dubya. Trump, like Dubya, uses certain patterns of speech to appeal to people who aren’t particularly well educated. His concern is that he might cause resentment and alienation by speaking to them in long sentences with multiple clauses and ten-dollar words. So he’s painted as dumb – when he really isn’t dumb.

Likewise, in New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern tells many of the same lies as her Labour predecessor Helen Clark, from whose playbook Ardern appears to be reading. Claiming that the previous Government left the books in a terrible state, and so there’s much less money available than anyone supposedly thought, Ardern’s Labour has gone back on almost all of its spending promises. Typically, they will suggest in 2020 that we will have to vote them in again if we actually want all those goodies, because we sure won’t get them from National.

If we want to know what’s happening next in the Greater Electoral Cycle, we just need to look at what happened at this point last time. The Democrats in America will probably run a weak candidate because incumbent Presidents are rarely prevented from winning a second term (not even George W Bush failed to do so). Trump will probably easily defeat them, as he will be in the high point of the centre-right part of the cycle.

The National Party of New Zealand has already handed the poisoned chalice to Simon Bridges, who is unimpressive even by the low standards of New Zealand politicians. He will probably lead National to a crushing defeat akin to that suffered by Bill English in 2002.

The West will keep going around and around in these greater cycles until the charade of democracy finally ends. At that point, either a tyrant arises to take us all to hell or a new movement of philosopher-kings arises and initiates a new Golden Age.

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