“Right now, throughout the liberal democracies, the scions of the system are on the defensive. In the United States, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are jolting their parties with loud challenges to orthodoxy. In Germany, an upstart far-right party has just shocked the mainstream by winning unprecedented victories in state elections—following a pattern established by the surging National Front in France and other anti-immigration populists in Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia. And now Prime Minister David Cameron, veteran of the Scottish referendum, is facing a new test as the campaign to push Britain out of the European Union gathers steam.”

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“This is the hour of the insurgent. It’s the underdogs versus the big dog, the raucous streets versus the gated community, the Rebellion versus the Empire. There are a lot of different revolutionaries out there, and they have all sorts of things to be angry about: migrants, evil banks, Obamacare, stagnating wages, remote elites (whether in Washington or Brussels or London). What they have in common is their rejection of the powers that be—and that’s what gives them energy. Which is exactly what the incumbents seem to lack. Just take the European Union. It may be hard to believe, but the EU was a sexy idea once, back in its youth. Now it’s more like a middle-aged marriage, all tired compromises and embarrassed silences. Or consider German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in power for 11 years. When she’s praised, it’s invariably for her reliability, her role as the country’s ersatz mother, a “safe pair of hands”—not exactly the stuff of dreams. And Hillary? She tries to convince us that she’s a fighter but ends up looking like a fixture.”

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“When he first showed up, Barack Obama’s very appearance signaled the end of business as usual. Now, seven years later, he’s part of the background noise, the ultimate no drama president. And when Trump zinged the dogged Jeb Bush as “low energy,” the barb stuck: The man’s family has been hogging our screens for decades. Surely they’re tired of themselves by now?”

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“Revolution is sexy—romantic, even. Guerrilla theater is way more of a rush than the scripted press event. No one ever got votes by issuing calls for “muddling through” or “more of the same, tweaked a bit.” Even if you have the right ideas (sticking with Europe, welcoming migrants), it can be hard to get people excited about business as usual. If the defenders of the old order want to survive this moment, they’ll need to convince us that it’s worth keeping them around. They’ll need to tap into our emotions, not just our sense of continuity. They’ll need to convince us that they’re not just selling us a line.”

Read: Why Insurgency Is Fun