Like a meteor, Boris Johnson seems to be streaking across the firmament to land with a dull thud. He’s lost his majority when Dr Phillip Lee crossed the aisle! He might have the shortest term of any prime minister in UK history! I know you’ve all got a lot of work yet to overcome the poison of Brexit, but I’m envious that you managed to take one small step towards sanity.
Tell us how to do it here.
I went looking for comparisons to help us out, and alas, I had to read Jennifer Rubin, the conservative journalist who was such a cheerleader for war in Iraq. I have no confidence in her opinion, but she did list three lessons for the US to learn.
First, Trump, like Johnson, is all bluster and no competence, and as problems of his own making mount, he becomes even less stable. As matters get worse, Trump hides more often (e.g., refusing to go to Poland), lies more (e.g., phantom calls from China’s negotiators, an anti-historical explanation for Russia’s expulsion from the Group of Seven) and lashes out more frequently.
OK, yes, we know. Both the UK and US are suffering self-inflicted wounds in the persons of Johnson and Trump. We already are fully aware of this.
Second, unlike Lee, the United States has, with the exception of Rep. Justin Amash (I-Mich.), no sitting legislator with the nerve to call out his party’s leader and stand up for conservative and constitutional principles. If we had a “no confidence” vote in the United States — wouldn’t that be delightful?! — the Republican administration and party would collapse under the weight of Trump’s stunning incompetence. The very little man behind the curtain no longer can sustain the illusion of sanity, let alone strength.
We’re relying on conservative legislators to grow a spine and abandon the Republican party? Hah. If there’s one thing we know, Republicans lack spines, consciences, and honest principles. This isn’t going to happen. There’s too much money and power driving the dominant political party (and we’ll have to watch it that if the Democrats gain seats, they might just turn into another party with no principles — there are good signs that the DNC is already like that.)
And finally, the antidote to illiberal wannabe autocrats is democracy. Brits took to the streets to protest Johnson’s scheme, and now in the heart of the oldest deliberative body, the model for democratic legislatures everywhere, conservatives are taking on their leader. If American conservatives would only follow their example, America’s Trumpian nightmare would end sooner rather than later.
We’ve done protests — remember the Women’s March? — but there was no follow-through and none of it dislodged any of the vermin in office from their positions. Any protest would have to involve more than a day of marching, followed by going home to the status quo. I don’t know that Americans are prepared to do more.
We’re pinning all hopes on the next election, held in gerrymandered districts with active voter suppression and an electoral college that makes most of us irrelevant. There are a heck of a lot of structural problems in American democracy that make an appeal to “democracy” just as forlorn as expecting Republicans to have a conscience.
It looks to me like we’re going to have to rely instead on an old American tradition: Revolution. But that’s a real throw of the dice.