September 11, 2019
Is conservatism, as a political posture in this country about to self-destruct? Conservatism fell from Eisenhower to Reagan to Gingrich to Trump; there isn’t much further to go, and no sign of reversal.
American conservatives aren’t alone in declining. The degenerate, authoritarian form has surfaced in the United Kingdom as well. Recently, The Seattle Times carried two related articles about the maneuvering of Boris Johnson which revealed the similarity between conservative politics here and in the UK.
There the issue is, of course, Brexit. It forms a parallel with the situation here: rejection of peaceful, organized, beneficial ties to other countries, the pretense that we can go it alone, an economic isolationism. The Brexit referendum vote was, like our electoral result, a national declaration of backwardness, but Trump and Johnson have gone further, Trump with — among other follies — tariffs, Johnson with a no-deal exit. Here are a few quotes from one of those articles which unintentionally point out the similarities:
Opposition lawmakers argue that Mr. Johnson’s strategy is tempting a disastrous and unpopular no-deal Brexit that could tear apart the United Kingdom, cripple some British industries and throw the economy into a recession, while setting off shortages of food and medicines.
We may not lack for food and medicine, but the effect of Trump’s tariffs on industry and the economy are the same.
Johnson has arranged to suspend Parliament until just before his exit deadline, stifling debate, showing a contempt for the legislature that matches Trump’s. As a result, “An immediate challenge to the prime minister’s action has been filed in Scotland . . . . A former Conservative prime minister, John Major, joined a prominent businesswoman and opposition leaders in another legal challenge . . . .” Here the UK is copying our tendency to thrash out political issues in court.
The Scottish court ruled today that Johnson’s reason for suspending Parliament was a pretext, concealing the real reasons for the five-week hiatus, and that the move was “unlawful because it had the purpose of stymying Parliament.” The judges termed the government’s behavior “a clear failure to comply with generally accepted standards of behavior of public authorities,” an apt description of the Trump administration.
The situation in London is serious. “Still, some analysts say there are ways for a restive Parliament to regain control — namely by voting out Mr. Johnson’s government — if only it stopped dithering.” Does a dithering legislature sound familiar?
The second article focused on anti-Johnson demonstrations, including one in Northern Ireland, where Johnson is blundering into a fortified border (while Trump attempting to construct one here). “In Belfast, protesters gathered outside city hall. Brigitte Anton, 52, said that people think Johnson is ‘a bit of laugh and a buffoon’,“ a perfect parallel.
She went on: “I think he thinks he can get away with things, that people won’t notice, or people will be too surprised or scared to do anything . . .” Again, the description fits our Leader. “Dictator? I would say not yet but it is developing toward that.” As to that comment, consider Trump’s order, by tweet, of course —what a timid dictator — to American companies to leave China.
The demise of the Republican Party has been predicted from time to time, and a new book by Stanley Greenberg, a Democratic pollster, renews the forecast: RIP GOP: How the New America Is Dooming the Republicans; he thinks that a blue wave in 2020 will shatter the Republican Party. (He is not the first to use that title; RIP GOP: The Decline and Fall of a Once-Great Party, by Martin Schram was published in 2017). Greenberg repeated the prediction in a New York Times column entitled “The Republican Party is Doomed.”
However, the GOP has a powerful ally in the electoral college. Predictions by Democrats that demographics would bring them to power were at least partly delusional and helped to misdirect attention toward ethnicity and away from economic inequity. They need to stop helping the GOP to survive by ignoring working people and middle America.
70. https://beta.washingtonpost.com/world/scottish-court-rules-johnsons-suspension-of-britains- parliament- was-illegal/2019/09/11/84265a36-d40a-11e9-8924-1db7dac797fb_story.html?wpisrc=nl _most&wpmm=1
71. Preceding quotes from https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/31/world/europe/uk-johnson- constitution-brexit.html?searchResultPosition=6
72. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/anger-over-brexit-push-without-parliament- reaches-boris-johnsons-doorstep/2019/08/31/89e04762-cb67-11e9-9615-8f1a32962e04_story.html