Tuesday, December 11, 2018

American and British Politics 2018

We Americans, on both sides of the aisle, tend to believe that we are mired in the worst of all political landscapes.  The country is bitterly divided.  Some Americans strongly support Trump while others feel he should be impeached.  The Midterms gave us divided government and nothing seems likely to get done about any of the urgent issues confronting our nation.  The prospect of Special Counsel reports and potential impeachment hearings make the political prospects for 2019 messy at the very least.  Only the death of a kind and gracious former president (GHWB) bought us the briefest of reprieves from the incessant political division within the USA. And so on.

But we need only look across the pond to see that this is essentially an illusion caused by our perennial national insularity.

The current British political scene is MUCH WORSE than anything we face in America right now for several reasons.

Theresa May's popularity, in spite of not having cavorted with porn stars, is far LOWER than Trump's range.  In fact only about 25% of Britons approve of the current British Prime Minister (https://yougov.co.uk/topics/politics/articles-reports/2018/07/12/theresa-mays-favourability-score-plummets-new-low).  Trump's popularity, on the other hand, hovers in the 40s (https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/trump-approval-ratings/)

America confronts a potentially dangerous trade war with China and Trump is determined to play his game of chicken with President Xi.  But Britain has already lost a self-inflicted trade war with the European Union due to Brexit.  The Pound has been hammered and is now hitting a 20 year low with regard to the dollar (www.express.co.uk/finance/city/1057276/Pound-US-dollar-exchange-rate-GBP-USD-20-month-low-Brexit-vote-tfx).  Property prices, a cornerstone of the UK economy, are now actually falling since the 2016 Brexit referendum www.telegraph.co.uk/property/house-prices/house-price-growth-falls-six-year-low/.  By contrast, growth in the US economy has accelerated since 2016 and we have recently seen 3.6% unemployment - the lowest since the 1960s.

The media breathlessly inform us that some blue states in America such as California are so miffed with Trump that they are looking to leave the Union (www.cnbc.com/2018/04/24/calexit-plan-to-divorce-california-from-us-is-getting-a-second-chance.html).  While Cal-Exit is laughable fairy tale, there is a very real possibility that the United Kingdom could lose both Scotland and Northern Ireland over the next ten years (www.ft.com/content/6d02d3a4-fa24-11e8-8b7c-6fa24bd5409c). Scotland could renew its call for a referendum while Northern Ireland could be driven into the arms of the Irish Republic which was provided for in the Belfast accords that ended The Troubles in the 1990s (www.politico.eu/article/united-ireland-after-brexit-reunification-vote/) .  Would England and Wales really amount to a Great Britain?

Given the Republican control of the US Senate, it is highly unlikely that Trump will be impeached by Congress in 2019.  But even if he were successfully impeached, we all know that the result would be...President Pence.  The same Pence who recently did an outstanding job speaking at the Bush funeral service.  Pence, regardless of whether you like or agree with his politics, is a highly credible individual with a lifetime of public service experience.

Jeremy Corbyn: The Devil we don't Know

Who is waiting in the wings in the UK should (as now seems likely) the May government fall?  The distressing answer is...Jeremy Corbyn.  If you want to understand Corbyn just imagine a virulently anti-semitic humorless version of Bernie Sanders (www.theguardian.com/news/2018/dec/10/britain-has-worst-record-for-antisemitism-in-europe-says-report).  The prospect that May's foundering over Brexit could lead to a Corbyn premiership has the UK financial markets spooked for the best of reasons.  There may still be a hundred pence in the Pound but I'd take Pence over a pounding by Corbyn any day!  Corbyn (and not really Brexit) is the guillotine poised to drop on the British economy.

5) FRANCE...?
Speaking of guillotines, the political and economic situation in France under Macron is arguably even worse than the turmoil in the United States or Britain!  Violence is spilling into the streets of Paris with the Yellow Vest protestors with every sign that much worse is to come (www.nytimes.com/2018/12/08/world/europe/france-paris-riots-yellow-vest.html).

As we pause in the US to celebrate the 2018 holiday season, perhaps, rather than sparring with our in-laws about politics over the Christmas turkey, we should count our political blessings and be comforted a bit by the waves of political shadenfreude wafting across the Atlantic!

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and 
Peace on Earth from the Commander!

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