History’s radical movements may get the most attention, but our guest says that conservative politics have just as much influence. He talks with us about how conservatives have helped to stabilize democracies over time. Tensions are on the rise between the U.S. and North Korea, with President Trump promising “fire and fury” in Pyongyang continues to threaten the U.S. We discuss the latest developments. We also hear about one of the country’s largest geocaching events happening this weekend in West Bend.
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Professor: Conservative Parties Crucial For Democracy
Democracy faced a rocky transition as the world entered the 20th century.
European countries transitioned from governance by the powerful to governance by the people. Suffrage was on its way to expanding.
“Conservatives were often opposed to this because they were representing elites, aristocrats,” said Daniel Ziblatt, professor of government at Harvard University. “Powerful people who thought they would lose out in the face of democracy.”
Because of that, one might assume that conservatives were historical impediments to universal democracy. On the contrary, Ziblatt said.
He says the formation of conservative, center-right parties in Europe was crucial to the formation of democracy in those countries. He writes about this concept in a new book, “Conservative Parties and the Birth of Democracy.”
Where a center-right party didn’t form, there was room for extremism.
“Germany was this case where there was this weak center-right,” Ziblatt said. “And this paved the way for the rise of Hitler, there’s certainly no question about that.”
Ziblatt said Germany had a difficult transition to democracy. Its conservative party “panicked in the face of democracy,” he said. Because of that, the group lost control.
At a party gathering in the 1890s, “they voted to include an antisemitic plank in the conservative party platform against the wishes of the party leaders,” Ziblatt said.
“When you don’t have a constitutional center-right party present, there’s a vacuum,” he said. “And that vacuum gets filled by much more radical right forces. Without them there, the options are only much worse.”
England was a polar opposite to Germany. During that time period, the country had a powerful conservative aristocrat named Lord Salisbury.
He was historically opposed to universal suffrage, even saying at one point, “Wherever democracy has prevailed, the power of the State has been used in some form or other to plunder the well-to-do classes for the benefit of the poor.”
But Ziblatt said Salisbury began to change his mind as the century progressed. He built up a party organization, sometimes winning. As a result, England had a strong conservative center-right party.
“And so that discovery was an important development, I think, in European democracy,” Ziblatt said.
Though his research focused on 19th and 20th century Europe, Ziblatt said this concept can translate to modern-day America. He believes the Republican party is “fractured” by outside expenditures, which he says left room for outsider Donald Trump to win the nomination.
Though the conservative party’s weakness in Germany was in some ways “fixed” by World War II, Ziblatt said that doesn’t need to happen to solve the American Republican party.
“What has to happen is there has to be organizational reforms within the Republican party,” he said. “One interesting thing to think about is, the Republican party doesn’t have superdelegates. Had there been superdelegates in the republican party … Donald Trump wouldn’t be president today.”
War Of Words Between U.S. And North Korea Escalates
President Donald Trump and North Korea dictator Kim Jong Un traded threats of violence Tuesday, escalating the war of words between the two nations. President Trump promised “fire and fury” if North Korea continues to threaten the U.S., and hours later Pyongyang responded with a threat to attack Guam. We talk to a foreign relations expert about this news and the likelihood of an attack.
Geocaching In Wisconsin
If you like being outside and also like searching for treasure, geocaching might be the hobby for you. Wisconsin, in particular, has a lot of people who participate in this activity. We speak with Dawn Children, President of the Wisconsin Geocaching Association, about the hobby and some upcoming events.
Conservative Parties And The Birth Of Democracy
Our guest makes the case that throughout history, conservaitve parties have played a pivotal role in the stabilization of democracy.
- Rob Ferrett Host
- Veronica Rueckert Host
- Veronica Rueckert Producer
- Amanda Magnus Producer
- J. Carlisle Larsen Producer
- Daniel Ziblatt Guest
- Jeremi Suri Guest
- Dawn Children Guest
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