Month: July 2016

Learning from Britain’s crisis

By E.J. DIONNE JR. Elites are in trouble. High levels of immigration are destabilizing our democracies. Politicians who put their short-term political interests over their countries’ needs reap the whirlwind—for themselves but, more importantly, for their nations. Citizens who live in the economically ailing peripheries of wealthy nations are in revolt against well-off and cosmopolitan metropolitan areas. Older voters lock in decisions that young voters reject. Traditional political parties on the left and right are being torn asunder. One of the few good things about Britain’s vote to leave the European Union is the rich curriculum of lessons it offers leaders and electorates in other democracies. History is unlikely to be kind to British Prime Minister David Cameron. Last week’s referendum was not the product of broad popular demand. Cameron called it to solve a short-term political problem and get through an election. His Conservative Party was split on Europe and feared hemorrhaging votes to the right-wing, anti-Europe, anti-immigrant UK Independence Party. Cameron figured that kicking his troubles down the road by promising a future plebiscite on Europe could make them go away. Instead, he turned a normal electoral challenge into a profound crisis that could lead to the breakup of his country while threatening Europe’s future. The devastating complaint of Martin Schulz, the president of the European parliament: “A whole continent is taken hostage because of an internal...

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Election won’t unjam political gridlock

Many Americans say they’re unhappy with the way the U.S. government is being run and demand wholesale changes. Whatever the individual views among us, it’s argued here that we should be the beneficiaries of at least two healthy parties where there are center-right and a center-left choices. The center-right some say should stand to offer market-based solutions to global warming, gun control, fiscal policy, free trade and its impacts, and reassuring insights for the challenges of foreign policy where atomic weapons can get into the hands of madmen. What’s happened in 2016 is that the center-right party has become ethically challenged and downright dangerous by playing on the ignorance and fears of many Americans. Within its membership are anti-government Tea Party followers who want to end all public programs while cutting taxes on the wealthy, members of big oil who are determined to crush efforts at renewable fuels, global-warming deniers, and working any and all means to bring America’s middle class to their knees along with our nation’s 225-year struggle to establish and maintain a democracy. In a head-long rush to establish an ideology based on Spartan conditions for most Americans, they have thrown their support behind a presidential candidate who’s devoid of policy knowledge, refuses to do his homework, uses racial and ethnic slurs to attack a well-respected federal judge because the judge won’t do his bidding, has made fun of handicapped Americans, ignores the First Amendment that guarantees religious freedom and promises to ban all Muslims, says he’ll build a wall across the U.S. southern border at Mexico’s expense, end treaties with tried and true U.S....

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