How can David Cameron possibly hope to win on ‘Brexit’ when his government is on the precipice? Daily Bullshit, May 30, 2016 (updated again)

Updated for Jake Johnson’s response to Robert Reich’s proposed capitulation to Hillary Clinton and for an Observer article criticizing Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.


Brexit

Ashley Cowburn’s story corroborates the Guardian story[1] I included in this space yesterday. Suffice it to say, British Prime Minister David Cameron is in real trouble, with his political future staked on the ‘Brexit’ referendum.[2] To the extent that it is possible to reduce British unease with the European Union to economics,[3] it’s reasonable to suggest that European economic policy and the Euro combine to produce economic disaster, with southern European countries suffering mightily for relative northern prosperity.[4] But Britain retained its own separate currency. Some of this also seems to be about immigration;[5] economists rarely acknowledge its effects on working class employment even though it fairly obviously depresses worker leverage in the labor market.[6]

This is not a comfortable topic for me to take up. For one thing, I’m viewing this from afar and frankly haven’t paid as much attention as I would prefer before holding forth. Another issue is my belief that borders support an ‘us’ versus ‘them’ mentality that presumes that human beings on the other side of an arbitrary line are somehow less entitled to human rights and privileges available on the near side,[7] or worse, as would be the probable result of British neoliberal deregulation, fewer rights on the near side than on the far. At the same time, as an anarchist, I oppose any authority, let alone centralized authority.

But Britain without the E.U. is only one level of hierarchy less centralized than it is with. Much of the motivation for ‘Brexit’[8] appears authoritarian populist and, with the U.K. Independence Party (UKIP), paleoconservative. These are horribly ugly impulses.

On the other hand, the argument against ‘Brexit’ dismisses worker concerns in favor of so-called ‘free’ trade and is thus classically neoliberal. Ick.

I hate the political arguments being made on both sides. And even though my impulse is to favor decentralization, and thus both Scottish independence[9] and Brexit, I have to weigh whether on balance the E.U. is better than its member governments. In the case of Britain, I think the answer is unequivocally yes—the European move toward open access,[10] for example, demonstrates a recognition too rarely seen in neoliberalism that not all value can be reduced to profit and loss—and I see little hope for improvement in the near future. So my head and heart are not in unison. My heart says yes to Brexit. My head says remain.

Ashley Cowburn, “David Cameron ‘toast within days’ if Britain votes to leave European Union, says Tory MP,” Independent, May 29, 2016, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/david-cameron-toast-within-days-if-britain-votes-to-leave-european-union-says-tory-mp-a7054696.html


Open Access

Martin Enserink, “In dramatic statement, European leaders call for ‘immediate’ open access to all scientific papers by 2020,” Science, May 27, 2016, http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/05/dramatic-statement-european-leaders-call-immediate-open-access-all-scientific-papers


Donald Trump

It’s hard to imagine an independent bid coming together at this even later stage than when it seemed to be failing before[11] and Talking Points Memo now reports that Bill Kristol claims to have recruited a third party candidate.[12] That said, the prospects of a strong Libertarian party bid[13] and an independent run make rubbish of all predictions of the outcome in November.

To some extent, the hoopla appears misguided. My guess right now is that the small neoconservative vote—which matters even less in the electoral college than in the popular vote—will split between Bill Kristol’s independent bid (if it materializes), Hillary Clinton, and Donald Trump. Purist capitalist libertarians who forced a second ballot on both the Gary Johnson presidential and William Weld vice presidential nominations for the Libertarian Party[14] are also relatively small in number; they also amount to virtually nothing in the electoral college. This whole thing gets traction both among those pushing for a third party or independent bid and among pundits because very few properly understand the divisions within the conservative movement.[15] For example, capitalist libertarians ludicrously think the Tea Party derives from their movement; in fact, the Tea Party is largely authoritarian populist (a separate tendency), much more warlike, and much less socially liberal. Authoritarian populists often resemble neoconservatives but will uniformly despise Hillary Clinton and tend to much more strongly align in favor of “states’ rights” and a smaller federal government. And I think authoritarian populists, paleoconservatives, and probably a plurality of social conservatives have united behind Donald Trump. That, by the way, is the bulk of the Republican base, which is why Donald Trump is looking strong against Hillary Clinton.[16]

What remains to be seen is what happens on the Democratic side, what Independents do, and the extent to which the prophesy of a relatively strong independent and/or third party performance becomes self-fulfilling.

Katherine Krueger, “#NeverTrump Ringleader Bill Kristol: We’ve Got A Third Party Candidate,” Talking Points Memo, May 30, 2016, http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/bill-kristol-third-party-candidate

Sophie Tatum, “Trump jabs at Bill Kristol over independent candidate prediction,” CNN, May 30, 2016, http://www.cnn.com/2016/05/29/politics/bill-kristol-donald-trump-independent-candidate/index.html


Chinese economy

Simon Denyer, “Along the new Silk Road, a city built on sand is a monument to China’s problems,” Washington Post, May 29, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/along-the-new-silk-road-a-city-built-on-sand-is-a-monument-to-chinas-problems/2016/05/29/982424c0-1d09-11e6-82c2-a7dcb313287d_story.html


Uber

Evan Bush, “All’s still not smooth for Uber after its bumpy ride to Sea-Tac Airport,” Seattle Times, May 28, 2016, http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/transportation/alls-still-not-smooth-for-uber-after-its-bumpy-ride-to-sea-tac-service/


Horse Race

It’s of course beyond absurd that functionalist conservatives are taking so long to figure out that the financial crisis that began in 2007 and in which elites completely neglected ordinary people but rushed to rescue the financial sector[17] has had a long-lasting impact on voter attitudes. But what I want to call attention to is this passage: “Nominally the economy has been expanding for 6½ years, well above the average for a post-World War II recovery. The economy has added jobs for 74 straight months.”[18] Seib is far from alone in calling attention to the length of this so-called recovery. What’s notable is what he leaves out, the weakness, both in terms of GDP and employment, of this ‘recovery,’ which has never appeared healthy in part, and as Seib does acknowledge, because ordinary people haven’t shared in it.[19] Seib notes “a sense of eroding confidence born of stagnant or declining wages and job insecurity. Just 23% said they expected their income to be higher in the coming year. Almost half of adults said they couldn’t cover an emergency expense costing $400, or would have to cover it by selling something or borrowing money.”[20] As I said, none of this should be a surprise. The pessimism here is longstanding. And it may take a Donald Trump victory in November for functionalist conservatives to realize that this so-called recovery was no way, no how, good enough and that they actually need to do something.

Instead, the other thing to note in that passage is that these downturns are supposed to be normal. Six and a half years, Seib writes, is “well above the average for a post-World War II recovery.”[21] And even though the labor force participation and adult employment rates remain low,[22] he points to “74 straight months” of added jobs.[23] The entire mainstream political establishment expects the rest of us to find this situation acceptable, which is why they failed to expect Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump to do as well as they have. They need to get a clue.

Jake Johnson, “No, I Won’t Work for Hillary Clinton: A Response to Robert Reich,” Common Dreams, May 30, 2016, http://www.commondreams.org/views/2016/05/30/no-i-wont-work-hillary-clinton-response-robert-reich

Gerald F. Seib, “Economic Scars Help Explain Bizarre 2016 Race,” Wall Street Journal, May 30, 2016, http://www.wsj.com/articles/economic-scars-help-explain-bizarre-2016-race-1464622309


Hillary Clinton

Given the disclosure at the end of John Schindler’s article, we can assume the Observer is at least somewhat deferential to Donald Trump.[24] But when Donald Trump promises to go after Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server, this looks like the substance behind that attack.

John R. Schindler, “Game Over: EmailGate Just Crippled the Clinton Express,” Observer, May 26, 2016, http://observer.com/2016/05/game-over-emailgate-just-crippled-the-clinton-express/


Existential Comics, May 30, 2016, fair use.

Footnotes

  1. [1]Andrew Sparrow, “Tory MPs escalate party turmoil with open call for Cameron to quit,” Guardian, May 29, 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/may/29/andrew-brigden-conservatives-david-cameron-fractured-eu-debate-election
  2. [2]Ashley Cowburn, “David Cameron ‘toast within days’ if Britain votes to leave European Union, says Tory MP,” Independent, May 29, 2016, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/david-cameron-toast-within-days-if-britain-votes-to-leave-european-union-says-tory-mp-a7054696.html; Andrew Sparrow, “Tory MPs escalate party turmoil with open call for Cameron to quit,” Guardian, May 29, 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/may/29/andrew-brigden-conservatives-david-cameron-fractured-eu-debate-election
  3. [3]Boris Johnson, “Of course our City fat cats love the EU – it’s why they earn so much,” Telegraph, May 15, 2016, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/05/15/of-course-our-city-fat-cats-love-the-eu–its-why-they-earn-so-mu/
  4. [4]Mark Blyth, Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea (Oxford, UK: Oxford University, 2013).
  5. [5]Boris Johnson, “Of course our City fat cats love the EU – it’s why they earn so much,” Telegraph, May 15, 2016, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/05/15/of-course-our-city-fat-cats-love-the-eu–its-why-they-earn-so-mu/; Jules Johnston, “Boris Johnson compares EU to Nazi superstate,” Politico, May 15, 2016, http://www.politico.eu/article/boris-johnson-compares-eu-to-nazi-superstate-brexit-ukip/; Tim Ross, “Boris Johnson: The EU wants a superstate, just as Hitler did,” Telegraph, May 15, 2016, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/05/14/boris-johnson-the-eu-wants-a-superstate-just-as-hitler-did/
  6. [6]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  7. [7]David Benfell, “Humans Without Borders: A Paradox,” October 15, 2013, https://parts-unknown.org/drupal7/journal/2013/10/15/humans-without-borders-paradox
  8. [8]Boris Johnson, “Of course our City fat cats love the EU – it’s why they earn so much,” Telegraph, May 15, 2016, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/05/15/of-course-our-city-fat-cats-love-the-eu–its-why-they-earn-so-mu/; Jules Johnston, “Boris Johnson compares EU to Nazi superstate,” Politico, May 15, 2016, http://www.politico.eu/article/boris-johnson-compares-eu-to-nazi-superstate-brexit-ukip/; Tim Ross, “Boris Johnson: The EU wants a superstate, just as Hitler did,” Telegraph, May 15, 2016, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/05/14/boris-johnson-the-eu-wants-a-superstate-just-as-hitler-did/
  9. [9]David Benfell, “Envying the Scots,” Not Housebroken, September 17, 2014, https://disunitedstates.org/?p=6632
  10. [10]Martin Enserink, “In dramatic statement, European leaders call for ‘immediate’ open access to all scientific papers by 2020,” Science, May 27, 2016,
  11. [11]Ed O’Keefe and David Weigel, “Some conservatives are still plotting to stop Trump at the GOP convention,” Washington Post, May 16, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/some-conservatives-are-still-plotting-to-stop-trump-at-the-gop-convention/2016/05/16/117166ee-1954-11e6-9e16-2e5a123aac62_story.html; Philip Rucker and Robert Costa, “Inside the GOP effort to draft an independent candidate to derail Trump,” Washington Post, May 14, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/inside-the-gop-effort-to-draft-an-independent-candidate-to-derail-trump/2016/05/14/1b04682e-1877-11e6-924d-838753295f9a_story.html; Jonathan Swan, “Third-party effort fizzling out,” Hill, May 13, 2016, http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/presidential-races/279749-third-party-effort-fizzling-out
  12. [12]Katherine Krueger, “#NeverTrump Ringleader Bill Kristol: We’ve Got A Third Party Candidate,” Talking Points Memo, May 30, 2016, http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/bill-kristol-third-party-candidate
  13. [13]Shane Goldmacher, “Can Libertarian nominees Gary Johnson and Bill Weld siphon votes from Trump?” Politico, May 29, 2016, http://www.politico.com/story/2016/05/libertarians-johnson-weld-trump-gary-william-223703; Jessie Hellmann, “Gary Johnson wins Libertarian nomination,” Hill, May 29, 2016, http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/presidential-races/281642-johnson-wins-libertarianination; Jessie Hellmann, “Weld wins Libertarian nomination for VP,” Hill, May 29, 2016, http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/presidential-races/281652-weld-wins-libertarianination-for-vice-president; Dara Lind, “The Libertarian Party tries to seize its Trump-sized opportunity,” Vox, May 24, 2016, http://www.vox.com/2016/5/24/11740210/libertarian-party-2016; Byron Tau, “More Americans Consider Third-Party Options,” Wall Street Journal, May 24, 2016, http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2016/05/24/more-americans-consider-third-party-options/
  14. [14]Jessie Hellmann, “Gary Johnson wins Libertarian nomination,” Hill, May 29, 2016, http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/presidential-races/281642-johnson-wins-libertarianination; Jessie Hellmann, “Weld wins Libertarian nomination for VP,” Hill, May 29, 2016, http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/presidential-races/281652-weld-wins-libertarianination-for-vice-president
  15. [15]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  16. [16]Patrick O’Connor, “Hillary Clinton’s Lead Over Donald Trump Narrows,” Wall Street Journal, May 22, 2016, http://www.wsj.com/articles/hillary-clintons-lead-over-donald-trump-narrows-1463922182; Steven Shepard, “Why Donald Trump’s poll numbers are surging,” Politico, May 20, 2016, http://www.politico.com/story/2016/05/donald-trump-poll-surge-223419; David Sherfinski, “Donald Trump’s assurances, Hillary Clinton antipathy unify Republicans,” Washington Times, May 22, 2016, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/may/22/hillary-clinton-antipathy-unifies-republicans-behi/
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  23. [23]Gerald F. Seib, “Economic Scars Help Explain Bizarre 2016 Race,” Wall Street Journal, May 30, 2016, http://www.wsj.com/articles/economic-scars-help-explain-bizarre-2016-race-1464622309
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4 thoughts on “How can David Cameron possibly hope to win on ‘Brexit’ when his government is on the precipice? Daily Bullshit, May 30, 2016 (updated again)

  1. @benfell on Brexit, I may abstain from that vote. I don’t want to ally with fascists or neoliberals. Even on a Brexit result, if Cameron resigned he would just be replaced by George Osborne or some similar creep from the right wing of the Conservatives.

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