If Brexit was a wakeup call for the authoritarian Left, their attempts to frustrate the process reveals a latent grogginess, as they repeatedly hit the snooze button. Our friends across the pond, with their typically audacious MO, have opted for an even louder alarm with flashing lights and a vexatious blare that seeks to “Make America Great Again”.
The received wisdom is that another blue-collar raspberry has been blown at the establishment; but while Donald J. Trump’s surname may be comically apposite, perhaps a definition that his compatriots are more accustomed with, is equally apt. Was he simply the highest scoring card in the game of presidential top trumps? Did the Democrats play the wrong card altogether? Maybe assertive showmanship, business acumen, lower taxes, fewer wars, and putting American interests first, trumped the ‘same shit different day’ prospectus of the celebrity endorsed alternative?
Claims that an emotion-driven red mist has descended over the great unwashed, rendering them incapable of rational thought, are reminiscent of a Victorian patriarchy dismissing the hysterical wittering of the hormonal weaker sex. Such is the arrogance of the champagne socialists that dominate Western media; such was the complacency of the political elite that refer to themselves as “liberal” despite a clear disdain for “deplorable” alternative opinions and an aversion to free speech. The bigoted Left has employed identity politics and vitriolic aggression to force diversity of thought underground, creating the Shy-Tories, Bashful-Brexiteers, and Silent-Trumpers (lol), that now dominate the electoral battleground by stealth.
The majority of both Britons and Americans are “sick of experts”, and the premise that a political intelligentsia is supremely qualified to run our lives, because “they know what’s best for us”, is wearing a little thin. Having voted for state intercession for years, poverty-stricken communities remain poor. So perhaps those that claim to have all the answers aren’t as infallible as they’d like to think.
President Obama had 8 years to make a difference, but for many expectant voters, it turns out that “No, he couldn’t!”. It was presumed, for example, that America’s first black president would improve race relations; but after stoking up divisions by presenting minorities as being oppressed by the evil white majority, unsurprisingly, resentment and tension have grown. The same is true of gun crime and inequality. So, it should come as no surprise that the patience of many Democrat voters has expired.
In the UK, the Labour party had 13 years, and as per usual, left office with the country on its knees. That bought time for the coalition that followed, just as Brexit uncertainty could do for Theresa May. The lack of a credible opposition strengthens her hand further, as they continue to labour under the misapprehension that we can solve the problem of too much government with even more government, borrow our way out of debt, and tax our way to prosperity. The same flawed logic is exactly why the EU was rejected in June, with Brussels Technocrats attempting to remedy the various ails that excessive centralisation has caused on the continent with even more centralisation. (As a handy side note, the ‘stuff yourself skinny’ diet doesn’t work; nor can you drink yourself sober!)
Recent developments are as popular amongst Millennials as a shart in a hot tub. They have no direct experience of the last time that genuine hardship was replaced by prosperity; that being when the bloated public sector was last rolled back! The older generation understood the economic argument to have been won by Thatcher and Reagan; hence, in stark contrast to left-leaning counterparts, approval ratings grew throughout their times in office, which ended with their own parties retaining power.
Unfortunately, complacency has since allowed socialist idealism to creep in. Not that it’s labelled as such these days. Contemporary exponents know that “socialism” is synonymous with economic illiteracy, so they rebranded, with the auto-antonymic “progressive” tag, some time ago. Their prosperity suppressing policies have prevailed nonetheless, so rather than making progress, a flying DeLorean is now whisking us back to 1985!
The Classical Liberal economists, that provided the inspiration for Maggie’s supply-side reforms, established that economies are too complicated for any individual to assess all of the relevant information before deciding what form of interference a government should take. Instead, they advocate allowing the hive mind of an unencumbered free market to facilitate the organic improvements in living standards that can be derived from the value created by billions of voluntary exchanges. If that sounds complicated, that’s probably because it is.
Graduates of the state-is-great doctrine of Western academia may harbour the desire to exert greater control over their world, but denying its complexity is folly. The notion of an omniscient authority is a chimera, as the inability of economists to produce either consistent or reliable forecasts, clearly demonstrates.
Value is subjective, so pursuing a politically determined “common good” is both spurious and immoral. Interventions inevitably require a trade-off between the gain of a chosen special interest group and the loss of everyone else. Unscrupulous career politicians recognise that these advantages can be sold to the highest bidder, with the proceeds used to buy the votes required to sustain their positions. This inevitably leads to the state-sponsored cronyism that is fallaciously mistaken for laissez faire capitalism by detractors that see no alternative to big government, and presume the alternatives to be as binary as benevolent-left or malevolent-right. They now fear that if evil concepts like patriotism and self-responsibility can be openly discussed in public, that may signal a shift in favouritism, with the “wrong” type of people assuming the prerogative status of their own coteries.
Be careful what you wish for, as the saying goes! Assuming that one’s own subjective values are more virtuous and deserving than anyone else’s, and seeking to elect a government that is prepared to use its monopoly over legalised force to implement them on your behalf, might not be the way forward after all.
Whether people are ready to kick the habit of Keynesian quick fixes remains to be seen though. It seems that globalised capitalism is erroneously bearing the brunt of the approved “left behind” narrative, enabling calls for a doubling-down of protectionist corporatism and redistributive interference. The same commentators conflate genuine free trade with highly regulated regional trading blocs and uncontrolled self-selecting immigration, implying an inexorable link where none exists. The common external tariffs and state-enforced barriers to entry that artificially raise prices, and the over-supply of unskilled labour that suppresses wages, were entirely avoidable political choices. The poverty that has been deliberately created by centre-left governments across the West, looking to calcify their support, is now coming home to roost.
We are now entering an entirely new political epoch: On 23rd June 2016, 17.4 million Britons voted to reclaim the freedom to do something about it. On 8th November 2016, 61 million Americans voted for a return to their core values of “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. Perhaps it’s time for the so-called experts to start listening to the people!
The views expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Conservatives for Liberty