Op-ed: U.S., UK politics are mirror images

  • By Cal Thomas
  • Saturday, August 29, 2015 6:12pm
  • Opinion

LONDON — It’s remarkable how often British and American politics resemble each other; often only the accents differ.

Following a disastrous defeat at the hands of Prime Minister David Cameron’s Tories, the Labour Party appears ready to elect as its next leader one Jeremy Corbyn, a hardcore leftist, self-described socialist and member of Parliament, who recently compared ISIS to the U.S. military and has called the terrorist group Hamas a “friend.” Corbyn also wants to renationalize some British industries and increase taxes on “the rich,” who are already paying more than half their earnings in income taxes, as well as a nationwide Value Added Tax of 20 percent.

Betty Boothroyd, a former speaker of the House of Commons and former Labour Party member, who is now an independent, took to the pages of last Sunday’s London Times in opposition to Corbyn’s election as party leader. She wrote: “The hard left is deluding a new generation with the same claptrap that it took my generation decades to discard.” She’s not alone. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair, who successfully moved Labour closer to the center and scored impressive electoral victories, has said Corbyn’s election as party leader would doom Labour’s prospects for years to come.

In the United States, another self-described socialist, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), is appealing largely to a younger generation that apparently knows little about the history of leftist ideology and its failures.

Meanwhile, Republican presidential candidates seem more interested in attacking each other than in naming and shaming the consequential domestic and foreign policy failures of liberalism exemplified in the presidency of Barack Obama.

Commentator Jeff Greenfield, writing in Politico magazine, critiques the decline of the Democratic Party, which parallels its wrong-headed domestic and foreign policies.

Here’s Greenfield: “Barack Obama will leave his party in its worst shape since the Great Depression — even if Hillary wins.” He might have added that if she does win, she will only make things worse because she subscribes to the same policies as Obama, which she helped enact as secretary of state. The two are joined at the political hip.

The decline in the number of congressional Democrats from a high of 60 senators and 257 House members in 2009, compared to 46 senators and 188 House members today, suggests that the tide of liberalism, which crested with Obama’s first election — and has been ebbing ever since — provides an opportunity for Republicans to convince a majority of voters not to continue down the road that has led to decline and dysfunction at home and overseas.

David Cameron made the case not to go back to the failed policies of the past and won another national election. When American liberal Democrats speak of failed policies of the past, the policies of the Reagan administration are often mentioned, though many Republicans believe they were largely successful. Foreign policy under George W. Bush is a notable exception. Which is worse: a bad foreign policy (Bush) or none at all (Obama)?

As in America with Republicans and Democrats, so, too, in the UK where members of one party are never expected to concede defeat and change course when their ideas prove unworkable and their policies wrong. This is fanaticism and it is one reason that, at least in America, people are fed-up with both parties. It is also why some conservatives are angry and frustrated enough to flirt with the improbable: Donald Trump as president of the United States.

Readers may email Cal Thomas at tcaeditors@tribpub.com.

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