Europe & Serious-Minded Centrism

So, apparently we’re descending into crisis mode again – the austerity consensus in France has clearly fallen with the election of the Socialist President Hollande, and in Greece anti-bailout parties took two-thirds of the vote.  Some of these, like the seemingly fascist “Golden Dawn” are quite scary.
I just want to note, somewhat orthogonally to the actual situation, that the election results in Greece put an odd spin on the centrism and bipartisanship that Washington types always seem to extoll.  Much as those Washington types always extol, Greece’s Pasok and New Democracy joined hands and leapt into a better tomorrow, passing bold policy initiatives that were abhorred by the voters but that all the Serious People knew simply had to be done.  In other words, they acted as the very model of the national-unity-caucus that will One Glorious Day Save Our Nation From Fiscal Crisis.
Except that instead of the public admiring their civic spirit and bold leadership, they regarded both mainstream parties as discredited and turned to alternatives that were less boldly proposing much more popular fiscal policy alternatives.  Since those parties were emphatically notmainstream, they also happened to have some rather unsavory policy platforms such as nationalizing the financial system or driving immigrants en masse into the sea.  I would suggest to David Brooks that he seriously ask himself if that would be a possibility here.

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