Ben Domenech gets it almost exactly right.
Rauch’s piece is a whitewashing paean to a leadership class in both parties that once had the power to manage and mitigate the disruptive tendencies of populist movements. But how did they lose that power? It didn’t happen overnight. It happened after incident after incident where they proved themselves feckless and incapable of responding to the interests of the people.
The steady decline of confidence in institutions that began with Watergate and Vietnam is due to real failures of the elite leadership class. These failures undermined confidence not just in capacity to do good but in capability to represent interests. The list is familiar to you by now: Impeachment. 9/11. Iraq. Katrina. Congressional corruption. Financial meltdown. Failed stimulus. Obamacare. Stagnant wages. Diminished hopes. But oh, the party establishment was doing good? These middlemen Rauch puts on a pedestal – they were responding and managing and running things well? No. They were looking out for the interests of people other than those they were elected to serve. They were responding to the donor class and to the party leadership – the very people Rauch views as responsible balances against the populist tendencies of the electorate.
Square Rauch’s frame with the Benjy Sarlin report this week on the people who elected Trump, which is also quoted below. You can’t, because the latter offers actual data to show why people supported Trump, and I’ll give you a hint: it’s not because they’re angry about the lack of earmarks. It’s not that people believe their leadership class is corrupt – it’s that they know they’re stupid. It’s not that people are angry because a parking garage didn’t get built, it’s that they’re angry because the FBI can’t keep track of a terrorist’s wife.
Sarlin’s piece illustrates, in clear data-driven reporting, the real basis for the breakdown of our Cold War era political reality: an utter collapse in the belief that our elites, elected or otherwise, have the capacity to represent. They no longer believe our elites will ever look out for the interests of an anxious people. The “he can’t be bought” frame for Trump’s rise is best understood as code for “he’ll look out for me, not [pick your group]”.
This is not about ideology. If people trusted elites and institutions they defend to look out for them, in a non-ideological sense, the breakdown of our systems would have been mitigated or confined. The fact that it is so sweeping is due to a generation of elites who didn’t do their jobs well, or pretended things weren’t their job for too long.
And there’s where my lone quibble, minor though it be, comes in. It’s not so much that they didn’t do their jobs well, or pretended things weren’t their job. It’s more that they had a completely wrong idea of what their jobs actually were in the first place: in a Constitutional republic, their jobs were, are, and should be to represent the interests of the American people, and to do so within the clear and unequivocal limitations placed upon the government by the Constitution as it was written, not as they might wish it had been. Robert Gore sees it more clearly:
The European powers will try, but the Brexit vote will be much harder to subvert. Command and control, as embodied by the EU and every other supranational governing institution—and every national government—is under mortal stress, doomed by its massive failures and its incompatibility with the demands of human survival. The proponents of staying in the EU weren’t even saying to the British: give us one more chance and we’ll get it right. They were saying: stay with us and we’ll keep doing what we’ve been doing wrong. Who accepts such a manifestly idiotic bargain? The wonder is that the vote was close, but the fear-mongering status quo mounted a ferocious and extraordinarily mendacious campaign.
The vote will hasten the EU’s eventual demise, but the biggest loser may turn out to be the US government. It pushed hard for a European union at the end of World War II and has promoted it ever since (Obama did his own cause more harm than good by telling the British how to vote). The EU was to be America’s one stop vassal, much tidier than trying to herd all of Europe’s cats. Just yesterday, The Wall Street Journal, a house organ for US unipolarity, headlined, “U.S. Worries ‘Brexit’ Will Dent Its Clout.” The government is right to worry. The confederated empire will be much harder to maintain if the EU dissolves, especially with its other European pillar, NATO, under attack from Donald Trump.
The mainstream media may be loath to admit it, we’ll see, but the Trump and Sanders insurgencies, and the gathering strength of various European nationalist movements, stem from the same impetus as the Brexit vote. Trump was quick to capitalize, saying the British were taking back their country and Americans would do the same by electing him.
The British people are to be congratulated for rejecting fear, embracing the future, and voting for sanity.
Indeed they are. More from Peter Hitchens, who sees some encouraging creative destruction going on:
Of course, it’s not just about immigration. A wonderful alliance, which I have long hoped for, has been forged in this campaign.
It has brought together two groups who had never really met before. The first group are the social and moral conservatives, whose views the Blairised Tory Party despised, while it still relied on their money and their votes. The second are the working-class families whose votes the Blairised Labour Party relied on, while it dismissed and ignored their concerns.
It is not just mass migration that worries them. They are also distressed about the decline in their standard of living, the pressure to get into debt, the way good state schools are reserved for the rich and cunning, the shrivelling of opportunities for the young, the unchecked spread of crime and disorder, the ridiculous cost of housing, and the general overcrowding of everything from roads to hospitals.
If it weren’t for old tribal party labels, these two groups would long ago have realised they were friends and allies.
They would have combined in a mutiny against the PR men and hedge-fund types who lounge arrogantly on the upper deck of politics, claiming that none of these problems exist – because they don’t experience them themselves.
For instance I, and millions of Tory voters, have far more in common with excellent Labour MPs such as Kate Hoey or Frank Field than I do with David Cameron and the weird, obedient, meaningless quacking robots with which he has filled the Cabinet Room and the Tory benches in the House of Commons.
But the ossified party system kept them apart until now. They could not and did not combine to defeat their common enemy. And so at Election after Election, those who merely wanted to live their lives much as they had always lived them, and were baffled and pained by the unending changes imposed on them, had nowhere to turn.
The parties they thought of as their own were in fact in an alliance against them. Blair became Cameron and Cameron became Blair, and after a while it was impossible to tell which was which.
Gee, that sure doesn’t sound anything at all like our own Democrat Socialist Party and its Republican collaborators, who demand that we unquestioningly support a Romney or McCain and later scream that a true Disrupter like Trump is “too liberal,” does it? Onwards:
That is why I don’t care who fills David Cameron’s place at the head of a Tory Party that long ago outlived its usefulness. There shouldn’t be any more David Camerons, thanks very much. In future, people like him should stand openly as what they are, globalist pro-migration Blairite liberals, and not call themselves Conservatives. So the important thing is that we do not miss this great moment when the people have joined together against a discredited and failed elite.
What we need is for the Tory Party and the Labour Party to collapse and split and be replaced by two new parties that properly reflect the real divisions in the country.
Emphasis mine, with hearty “amens” making the welkin ring. Again: gee, not familiar at all, no similarity with our own situation here in the States, is there? And with all that in mind, Walsh has some ideas for what Trump ought to be doing—all of which are good, concluding thusly:
Now it’s time for Trump 2.0: the focused, disciplined candidate we saw last week. This means focusing on Hillary’s weaknesses without fear, bringing speaker Paul Ryan and majority leader Mitch McConnell to heel and staying on message to Make America Great Again.
Hey, if the Brits can say adieu to the European Union and defy their entire political establishment, can Americans do any less? Across the world, there’s a hunger for national greatness again — and if Beltway insiders don’t hear that message, they surely will in November.
They damned well ought to, and forever afterward too. It reminds me of two great old (non)Jeffersonian homilies: when the people fear the government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty and the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. We went to sleep for a good long while there, and the inevitable happened. Now is a time for waking up and reclaiming our birthright.
Update! Wretchard: “All of a sudden, the invincible status quo looks very mortal. The BBC’s Katty Kayunderstood a Brexit win would signify everything had changed. If Brexit could win, then Trump could win. If Trump could win, the world was upside-down. The unthinkable was no longer impossible.” And not a moment too soon, either.
Updated update! Via Glenn: Wretchard responds (on Fakebook, no link provided) to the precious little snowflakes who are all upset and weepy over Britain’s liberation, whining that “Essentially people much, much older than us — and who won’t be around for the consequences — are giving us a future we don’t want”:
Essentially people much older than you gave you what you now take for granted. They won World War 2, fueled the great boom, walked through the valley of the shadow of nuclear death — and had you.
You didn’t make the present, nor as you now complain, are you making the future. No children, no national defense, no love of God or country.
But that’s just it. You’ve brainwashed yourselves into thinking someone else: the old, the older, the government, the dead would always do things for you.
If you learn anything from Brexit, learn that nobody got anywhere expecting someone to do things for him.
My response is a lot more succinct, if also profane. It would consist of two words, and I’m sure you can all guess what they are. But for my money, this is the truly important part:
“In Oxford especially, there’s this liberal atmosphere. You’re surrounded by so many like-minded people you forget there’s an outside world,” said Winn. “But especially in working-class communities, the Leave campaign was very popular. You do forget that being in an environment like this.”
“I have about 2,000 friends on Facebook — and all but three were voting ‘Remain.’ That tells you what kind of bubble you can live in, and how you can delude yourself it’s going to go one way and then it doesn’t.”
News flash for special snowflakes: not everybody thinks like you do, if what you’re doing can even be dignified by the word. It’s all boiling down to a contest between the elite, useless Screaming Garbage Babies versus the Dirt People. And it’s going to be a fight to the death.