Today Bernie Sanders publishes a book entitled “Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In”, which offers his reflections on the recent US election as well as a “progressive” prospectus for the future.

From a Scottish or UK perspective, the Vermont Senator’s “economic, environmental, racial and social justice” agenda is pretty mainstream stuff, but in a US context it’s considered radical, nothing less than a “political revolution”.

Over the past week there’s been the usual hunt for a single, over-arching explanation for Hillary Clinton’s defeat and Donald Trump’s victory, with some of those on the Left working hard to convince themselves that had Sanders been the Democratic nominee then the outcome would have been different.

Read more: The World in the shadow of Trump - When fascism is a fitting word

Well, it would have, in that Trump would have won by an even bigger margin, for the centre of political gravity in the US tilts to the right. Sandersism might look sensible through European eyes, but to many across the Atlantic it appears extreme and even un-American.

This is not a value judgement, merely an observation, but amid all the hand-wringing, hyperbolic talk about “fascism”, imminent war and fruitless marches on Trump Tower, Sanders has at least attempted to answer the question all self-styled “progressives” ought to be asking in the wake of last week’s election, namely how do liberals fight back and ensure the forces of reaction don’t consolidate or morph into something more sinister.

For the time being, however, liberal types are somewhere between the grief and denial phases post-Trump, venting about how awful it all is and deriving shallow comfort from the fact their candidate won a majority of the popular vote. “The true awfulness of Trump will become apparent over time”, wrote the New York Times’ Paul Krugman recently. “Bad things will happen, and he will be clueless about how to respond.”

Think, added Krugman, about how Hurricane Katrina exposed the “hollowness” of George W. Bush’s second administration, while Trump’s promises to bring back the good old days “will eventually be revealed as the lies they are”. Perhaps, but perhaps not, for such analysis assumes US politics will soon revert to the old rules of the game in which voters see a direct correlation between pledges and results.

Read more: The World in the shadow of Trump - When fascism is a fitting word

The trouble is that the new normal doesn’t quite work like that, for there’s always someone else to blame. In Scotland, for example, the SNP’s failure to do anything meaningful in terms of “social justice” is down to Tory cuts and its ineptness when it comes to Chinese investment deals the opposition’s fault. And post-Brexit, any downsides (and there are many) can be blamed on backsliding Tory MPs and unpatriotic judges.

And it’ll be the same in Trump’s America too. Even as president-elect he’s already started compromising, deciding that his predecessor ain’t so bad after all and that portions of his healthcare reforms might remain in place. And when, at some point next year, it becomes clear America isn’t going to become “great again”, he and his supporters will look around for someone to blame, most likely Democrats in Congress and, as ever, the “mainstream media”.

Deep down, I suspect Paul Krugman et al are conscious of this inconvenient truth, which is why he added a caveat, saying that the “effort to reclaim American decency is going to have to have staying power”. Progressives need to “build the case”, he added, “organize, create the framework” and, of course, “never forget who is right”.

Not only is that fantastically vague, but it’s imbued with the sort of superiority complex that partly contributed to the rise of Trumpism in the first place. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the progressive agenda of old was necessarily wrong, it just adopted an irritatingly smug tone that many voters in the US (and indeed in the UK) found unbearable. Continuing to fill up the pages of the New York Times with this stuff is not going to help.

Last Thursday, meanwhile, the First Minister added her two cents to the post-Trump debate. “People of progressive opinion the world over,” she told MSPs, “do have to stand up for the values of tolerance and respect for diversity and difference.” Now again that’s all very well and good, but it doesn’t amount to a strategy.

Read more: The World in the shadow of Trump - When fascism is a fitting word

Add to that the obvious fact that the SNP has itself ridden the tiger of anti-establishment anger, so warning against the same phenomenon in a UK or US context is kinda tricky. To repeat, this doesn’t mean it shares a policy agenda with Brexiters and Trumpists – far from it – but it’s the approach that’s similar: the contempt for opponents, playing fast and loose with facts, and a tendency to boil complex problems down to glib debating points and slogans.

And as the SNP’s opponents know all too well, such an approach cannot be combated with facts and reason, thus many appear to have ended up concluding that if they can’t beat them they may as well join them, be it Theresa May co-opting Ukip’s authoritarian (but ideologically confused) conservatism or Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour retreating into a Sanders-type fantasy that Middle England teeters on the brink of a political revolution. Some within Scottish Labour and the Scottish Liberal Democrats, meanwhile, appear to be wobbling over independence.

All of these parties, governments, movements – call them what you will – are agreed that “the system” doesn’t work, and although they have a point none have a convincing alternative prospectus beyond virtue signalling and dog-whistle rhetoric. But the problem is not only that the depth of political analysis is pretty shallow, but that whenever someone has a go (for example poor old Ed Miliband) it’s clear no one’s really listening.

Tone, as I said, is important. Last week Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama provided text-book examples of how to deal with the new president-elect, eschewing histrionics and therefore depriving him of any grievance narrative concerning the transition of power. They hope both to temper Trump’s actions and let his eventual actions speak for themselves, but again that only takes you so far.

And what they cannot be is complacent. The columnist Matthew Parris recently criticised what he called “facile columnising”, concluding that Trumpism et al was little more than a passing political fad. All liberals had to do, he said, was wait for the “madness” to subside and not indulge “xenophobes and pea-brains” who would “wreck the West”.

I suppose waiting for Brexit, Trump and possibly President Le Pen to “pass” is one option, but the idea there’ll be no collateral damage in the process is optimistic in the extreme. Could it be that all three are necessary evils before a rational counter-revolution can begin? Even if so, progressives had better get their thinking caps on soon.