In the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson has shown that anti-establishment populists can succeed by adopting moderate positions on culture and the economy, promising to spend more money on social services, and putting together a comparatively diverse cabinet. This creates a blueprint for a form of “moderate” populism—one that still assails (some) democratic institutions, but rejects the more extremist views on race and culture that are commonly associated with far-right candidates. If he succeeds in Britain, the populists of the next 10 years may look more like Johnson and less like Donald Trump.
6) Rising Wages for the Low-Skilled
For years, incomes in many developed democracies have risen for those at the top but not for those at the bottom. This differential has made many citizens deeply pessimistic about their country’s economic future.
But in the United States, this trend is now reversing. Wages started to rise across the board as the economy reached full employment in the last few years. In fact, in 2019, wages for low-wage earners rose about twice as fast as those for high-wage earners. If other developed democracies start to enjoy a similarly high level of employment—and sympathetic governments encourage a wage hike for those who most need it—the wages of the low-skilled may continue to rise more quickly than they have in the recent past.
The 2010s ushered in what some commentators are calling the “Great Awokening.” Especially in the United States, white leftists embraced more radical views on identity than they had in the past. But while this change helped push deep systemic injustices to the forefront of public attention, it also gave prominence to some ideas that are unlikely to meet with wide approval. According to a number of “woke” writers, for example, forms of mutual cultural influence, such as a cook from one country preparing food from another, or dresses being inspired by traditional clothing, amount to unacceptable “cultural appropriation.”
Throughout the past several months, a broad array of left-wing figures—including Dave Chappelle and Barack Obama—have criticized some aspects of the Great Awokening. Perhaps this was inevitable: As these positions gain in power, more people start to pay attention to them, and their illiberal nature becomes harder to ignore. Once exposed, these views may start to fade from the public discourse.
8) Conservatives Become More Diverse
In most countries, including Germany and the United States, immigrants and religious minorities are more likely to vote for left-wing parties. In one sense, this is surprising: Immigrants tend to be socially conservative. In another, it is completely unsurprising: Many right-wing parties have driven minorities away by tolerating, appeasing, or even courting racists.
Most political observers assume that this trend will continue in the coming decades; in America, many political scientists even predict that the Democrats will eventually have an all-but-certain electoral majority because of the growth in the nonwhite share of the population. If conservative parties have any sense of self-interest, they will finally start to build a broader tent. And if they manage to appeal to immigrant voters with conservative values—perhaps by adopting the kind of comparatively moderate populism pursued by Johnson—Western politics may become less racially polarized.