America Is Not On a Path to Become Israel 2.0

Oliver Weiken/DPA via ZUMA

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Roger Cohen says that Bibi Netanyahu’s victory in Tuesday’s Israeli elections has ominous overtones for America:

His victory contains a warning for any Democrat still imagining that the 2020 election will bring an easy victory over Donald Trump. The Netanyahu playbook will be President Trump’s next year. Gather nationalist and religious voters in your camp, add in a strong economy, dose with fear, sprinkle with strongman appeal, inject a dash of racism and victory is yours — whatever indictments are looming.

It’s not that this could happen. It will happen, absent some decisive factor to upend the logic of it. Netanyahu is savvier than Trump, but they share a shrewd assessment of how to control and manipulate the politics of spectacle, as well as a fierce determination to stay out of jail. They campaign ugly.

Well . . . I think it’s safer to stick with could happen. It’s worth keeping in mind that Israel has been upended demographically over the past three decades. It started with the great diaspora of mostly conservative Jews from Russia and Eastern Europe in the 1990s, which coincided with the beginning of a startling increase in the ultra-orthodox population. Among those over 18, these two groups now account for more than 20 percent of Israel’s population, up from nearly nothing in 1990. Along with the failure of the 1990s peace process and the second Palestinian intifada, this decimated Israel’s liberal parties and turned Israel permanently onto a hardcore conservative path.

Whatever else you can say about Donald Trump’s appeal, nothing like this has happened in the United States. In fact, just the opposite: the nonwhite share of the population has increased from 25 percent to 40 percent since 1990. This may have produced a short-term white backlash in recent years, but in the long run it’s likely to have exactly the opposite effect of Israel’s demographic change. Trump’s white base may not like it, but America is getting more liberal, not more conservative. See here for a more detailed look at this.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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