The Republican Party is in real turmoil at the moment. Although there is still time and hope within the ranks of their more sensible players that it will all come good in the end, at the moment they have two frontrunners in the presidential nominee race in Trump and Carson who are completely unelectable. However, as soon as I’ve said that I can hear the pundits at Breitbart shouting, “That’s a contradiction in terms. If Trump and Carson are way ahead within the race that in and of itself means they are by definition electable. It’s only you and your liberal bias that can’t see that for what it is.”
This reminds me immediately of the arguments around Corbyn’s electability in the UK. “But he won the Labour leadership race so overwhelmingly,” the Left will say. “That means he is by definition electable. It’s only you and your centre-right bias that can’t see that for what it is.” The similarity between the Left in Britain and the Right in America is that both have drifted away from where mainstream thinking is in either of their respective countries. Both are animated more than anything else by a rejection of “establishment politics”, and by anger over and above any sort of pragmatic view involving how they would like things to actually be different.
Much is made of the power of anti-politics. One example that gets trotted out is the SNP taking almost every seat in Scotland. It’s actually a poor one in many respects: the SNP have been in government in Scotland for some time, a fact that often gets left to one side when discussing the phenomenon we saw in May. It isn’t an academic point either: the SNP’s record in government was part of the reason a lot of ex-Labour voters would have felt safe voting for them in the general election. I myself have been involved directly in a few campaigns fuelled by an anti-politics vibe. I can say that it always fails in the end if it is taken to a wide enough electorate.
And that’s, as Han Solo might say, the real trick: the memberships of both the Labour and the Republican parties have now become wildly detached from the thinking of the wider electorates. So the idea that a majority of Labour members might think Corbyn is the new Jesus tells you nothing at all about how he will be perceived by the country as a whole. Judging by the Trump thing, same thing applies to America and the Republicans: in a presidential contest between Clinton and Trump (or Carson), Hilary would win easily.
Which brings me neatly to my conclusion. In the end, the upshot of all this is that there is one loser: democracy itself. Because as a direct result of all of this, the 2016 presidential contest could quickly become a coronation for Hilary Clinton and the next UK general election a foregone conclusion. Wherever you happen to sit on the political spectrum, I don’t see how you can argue that that is a good thing.
Assem khouzam says
I am sorry to say that this article is a poor one judging by your standards Nick, really disappointing! You put out a statement ‘The overlaps between the American Republicans and the current Labour Party are now frightening’. I expected some expanding or at least explanation of your statement but none was forthcoming! The only thing you mentioned was being ‘anti establishment’ which is not a policy!
Comparing Labour now to the Republicans in the US is bonkers! Look at the stance on immigration, they’re miles apart. Do you think Trump or any Republican for that matter will for one second adopt anti austerity?! More sensible commentators have compared Jeremy Corbyn to Bernie Sanders and the reason is clear: listen to what they say, the policies they promote.
I am afraid to persuade your readers Nick you have to come up with a better argument than what you put in this article!
Rob Pettitt says
@ assem: You are looking for an explanation of how the Republicans and Labour are the same and complain that the article does not do this. have you actually read the article? It’s quite clear that the comparison being made is between the electability of the two rather than the policies.
@Nick: it’s Breitbart
The thing is, though, Trump /is/ unelectable. (FiveThirtyEight’s analysis on this is pretty solid. http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/donald-trumps-six-stages-of-doom/) Just because someone’s called “unelectable” doesn’t necessarily mean that they are in fact the opposite. The U.S. is at a very different point in an election cycle that is run very differently, so even if all else were equal (which it isn’t because the voters are are different).
The Republican Party is like the Labour Party in some interesting ways — strongly factional, providing poor opposition, sure only that they want to be in power but not what they want to do with it once they have it — but I don’t think what you’re talking about here is one of them.
The 2016 U.S. presidential election is very unlikely to be a coronation for Hillary Clinton, given that her winning her own party’s nomination is far from a done deal and also how polarized American voters have been in most national elections this century.Plus it doesn’t matter how Clinton, or any Democratic candidate, would do against Carson or Trump because they won’t be running against them. There’s still such a long way to go that there’s no point following the polls too closely at the moment.
Joe Otten says
I think there’s another similarity. To a large extent the kind of oversimplified protest opposition you get to political elites is a function of the local culture. Socialist in Europe, Libertarian in the US, ISIL in the Middle East. I suspect the same kind of person immersed in the corresponding culture, could be any of these three.
Tiina Wilder says
I am afraid it is Hillary with two l’s.