The Road to Somewhere | David Goodhart

Summary of: The Road to Somewhere: The New Tribes Shaping British Politics
By: David Goodhart


Dive into the intriguing world of ‘The Road to Somewhere: The New Tribes Shaping British Politics’ by David Goodhart, where the outdated concepts of ‘left’ and ‘right’ are replaced by a fresh perspective: the Anywhere and Somewhere people. While Anywhere people thrive on globalization and embrace change, Somewhere people face the consequences of disrupted labor markets and diminishing status. This book explores their diverging mentalities, how this division impacts politics, and offers insight into the surprising election of Donald Trump and the Brexit vote. Expect a profound journey into the contemporary political landscape, discussing factors like immigration, cultural and societal changes, and the often-overlooked voices of Somewhere people.

Anywhere vs Somewhere – A New Political Divide

The election of Trump and Brexit highlighted the inadequacy of left-right labels to explain the political landscape. Instead, “Anywhere” and “Somewhere” divide societies. Anywheres, a minority of around 20-25%, are highly-educated globalists who define themselves by their achievements and career. They celebrate escape from community constraints and are positive towards globalization. In contrast, Somewheres, who make up around 50% of the population, are more likely to stay in their hometown, have lower educational qualifications, and identify with family roles and local identity. They fear change, are pessimistic about globalization and mass immigration, and feel threatened by changes in labor markets and community status. The author presents this categorization as a framework for understanding the current political climate and promotes a more inclusive liberalism for Anywheres to better appreciate the concerns of Somewheres.

The Forgotten People

The rise of populism in recent years reflects the Somewhere mentality, where people feel a sense of loss and being left behind. Somewhere people value loyalty to their in-group and sacred concepts, tend to be socially conservative and communitarian, and are not necessarily intolerant but feel a loss of their values and similarity in their communities. More progressive attitudes toward sexuality, family structures, and openness to different cultures have eroded traditional norms, and the market liberalization has left Somewhere unskilled or semiskilled working men feeling disadvantaged. Integration and a common in-group identity, rather than just preaching tolerance, can help improve society.

The Shift of the Political Left

The political left has become more globalized in their outlook and priorities, neglecting the Somewhere voter who feels left behind. The ideology of progressivism has led to a belief in transcending exclusive communities, including the nation-state. However, national institutions still hold enormous importance today. The left has also shifted its focus from economic issues to social causes such as feminism, environmentalism, and rights for minorities, immigrants, and LGBT people, as well as university education access. The left’s emphasis on globalization has led to overreach, causing the rise of populism. This is evidenced by NAFTA’s passage despite mass opposition, which left a gap for Trump to exploit. To address the causes of populism, the left needs to be tough on Anywhere overreach and mindful of the needs of the Somewhere voter.

The Rise of Somewhere Voters

The book highlights how the working-class Somewhere voters felt abandoned by the Anywhere elites who favored the rich. The 2008 financial crisis further fueled the rebellion of the Somewhere voters, leading to a rejection of Anywhere liberalism. Social media also played a role in bypassing elite filters and producing unexpected election results. The book challenges Anywhere thinking that stereotyped Somewhere voters as racist or ill-informed and emphasizes the underlying decency of their ideas. The Brexit campaign revealed that people were willing to trade economic gain for political agency. The highly educated and mobile elites in rich countries seem to have weaker national identity. The book warns that liberal elites may be less enthusiastic about democracy after the rise of populism. The book also exposes how elites can use the label “populist” to discount or ignore strong signals from voters.

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