The case for optimism about Western democracy

In five months, we could be living in a world where:

  • British voters have wisely rejected Brexit, and prime minister David Cameron continues the drive to reform the European Union and its institutions,
  • Donald Trump has been vanquished by an even wiser American electorate that has turned to two eminently qualified alternatives in Hillary Clinton and Gary Johnson,
  • Venezuela has (through legal methods) removed its socialist president from power, ending 18 years of chavismo,
  • Alain Juppé has defeated Nicolas Sarkozy for the center-right presidential nomination and is poised to defeat Marine Le Pen in the first round of France’s spring presidential election,
  • Matteo Renzi has won a referendum endorsing his broad course to reforming the Italian economy and political system, and
  • Angela Merkel will be well on her way to a fourth term as Germany’s chancellor, giving her a mandate to reform and repair the clear damage to the European Union.

(Though Brazil, Japan, China, India, Russia, Egypt, the Philippines and Indonesia could still be in deep trouble).

The point here isn’t to be Pollyanna. But maybe the pessimism that extremism is sweeping the United States and Europe will turn out to be wrong. There’s every chance that at the end of this awful year, we’ll all wake up to electorates that have landed on the side of reforming our institutions, not tearing them down.