In Western Europe, however, where many of the socialist, social-democratic, and labor parties entered government, socialists were forced to define their objectives more clearly. And what has emerged is a liberal conception of socialism. It has found itself under attack not from communists—who have disappeared after the fall of the Soviet Union—but from Christian Democrats, Conservatives, and other center-right parties that continue to put the imperatives of the private market first. To some extent, too, that debate has crept into the socialist and social-democratic parties themselves through the advocacy of neoliberal politicians like Tony Blair in the United Kingdom, Gerhard Schroeder in Germany, Felipe Gonzalez in Spain, and Francois Hollande in France.
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Bitterness about the status quo, then, and demands for change, are thus more than understandable. But in the words of Garrison Keillor, “Resentment is no excuse for bald-faced stupidity.” And the argument that many were voting for “change for change’s sake” is, in a word, idiotic. It is also disingenuous in whole cloth. Voting for Louis Farrakhan for President would also have represented a radical break with the past. If the goal is to bring about radical change, regardless of nominal policy content, the sort of knock-the-table-over housecleaning that only an outsider can deliver, well then Farrakhan is your man (and as plausible, and as qualified). But how many Trump supporters would have pulled the lever for Farrakhan? Right. So spare me the “any change is better than this” nonsense. There are very few instances where the Dylan doctrine does not apply (“think you’ve lost it all/there’s always more to lose”). Times may be tough, but the contemporary United States does not come close to being an exception to that rule.