The recent British election, in which Tories, and therefore Boris Johnson and Brexit, won in a landslide, should serve as a warning to the American left in the coming elections next November.
In my particular (left leaning) media bubble everything I read about British politics was against the Tories, and in particular against Brexit. It looked like BJ would get his ass handed to him on a platter, or at best eke out a narrow victory. The extent of his victory, never mind the verdict itself, was a shock to me. Of course, this could say more about me as an individual than about the expectations of the British public, but the point is that I had no reason to doubt my impression of the political zeitgeist there.
Everything I read about American politics would lead me to believe Trump is a dead man walking. Polls notwithstanding, the daily barrage of lamentation and outrage serves only to support the idea that his Waterloo is imminent. His transgressions are increasingly brazen, and even his support in the Senate seem transparently self-serving; a person could be forgiven for thinking that fair-minded peoiple on the right could easily rebel and go against him and his enablers.
I keep reading that Republicans, even in the Senate, despise him in their secret hearts. I hear that the fact that they stand by him publicly only exposes their hypocrisy and self preservation.
But here’s the rub: maybe they know something we don’t. Maybe the very hypocrisy we deplore should tell us something about the electorate, that Republicans don’t dare show their anti-Trump side because they know it would hurt them politically.
Maybe, as in the UK, enough people are more tired of liberal condescension than they are afraid of what Trump is doing to the coutry. Maybe — dare I say it? -– they actually like what he’s doing. Going strictly by the numbers, the economy looks good. True, much of that can be said to be in spite of Trump rather than because of him, but Republicans may well believe their constituency will reward staying the course and punish any criticism of it.
A case in point is the currently favorite liberal whipping boy, Lindsey Graham. He certainly is among the most brazen of the code-switchers, since he has a history of public Trump-bashing. What does he see that makes him so confident in his turn-around?
On one hand, if Trump survives and gets re-elected along with a majority in either house, Graham coasts in on the tide. If on the other hand, Trump loses, what are the prospects?
Surveying the current Democratic contenders, he probably doesn’t see anyone who would survive beyond a single term. Don’t forget, Republican obstructionists were able to limit much of Obama’s agenda, even when he had a Democratic congress.
I’m not saying such an analysis has any merit, but I can see Graham and his cohort believing it. Graham himself has a history of running for president, and certainly has his eyes on 2024.
But why, you may ask, is the Republican electorate so blind to the hipocrisy of so many Republican politicians, who were so dead set against Trump, and now enthusiastically sing in his choir?
I have a better question. Why is the left, in particular the Bernie-crats, so smitten with political consistency, as if no one is allowed to learn anything for the duration of a public career?
One big reason BJ got his victory in the UK was that so many people who might normally have voted left couldn’t stomach Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party leader. There are very good reasons for this, but the key is that their disdain was never enough to dislodge him from his position as leader.
Take that as you will; I just hope it’s not a lesson too late for the learning.