Saturday, November 17, 2018

The Beginning of the End of Our Populist Nightmare

The backlash to the last three years of the populist, nativist moment has begun.

You can see it most clearly in Britain - where the Brexit vote constellated and presaged a global Blood and Soil movement, retreating from the global stage and building walls to international commerce and culture.

Hard-line Brexiters, willing to scrap a compromise that innevitably hurts Britain, given that there is no leave option that can honestly help, may be pushing the public to support Remain, writes Jenni Russell in the New York Times.

After two years, it's finally dawning on the general British public that the populist promise of a pain-free Brexit producing an economic boon was nothing but a bunch of hooey, sold by power-hungry pols. Britain was already booming before the self-inflicted Brexit wounds. The compromise will be worse, and if Brexiters get their wish of a hard exit, potentially economically disastrous. Now the reality is dawning.

There are those still willing to push Britain off a cliff in order to see their xenophobic plans comes true. But most of Britain is waking up to the idea that self-created economic chaos is not a terribly great idea.

Meanwhile, in the US, Trump now has to contend with a newly energized Democratic congress that was able to assemble a majority across a wide ideological spectrum, while he continues to shrink the Republican Party into a cold,  black hole of resentment, white nationalism, and todying cronyism.

One might be tempted to say that there is no similar economic nightmare scenario that Trump has wroght in the US - but one would be wrong.

As we run out the clock on the economic recovery created by Obama - and juiced for a year by the Republican party's amazingly painfully horrible tax givaway to the 1% - we are about to run out our own fiscal good luck. The debt is soaring, global trade is being eviscerated, the planet is burning, and economic indicators such as housing starts, stocks, and interest rates are starting to blink red.

There's no signal that the US downturn would be anything like a hard-exit Brexit or even the last mini-Depression. But long term, with global climate change only 22 years away from becoming a global crisis, sending millions more scrambling for refugee status, the US populists are running us headlong into economic misery again of our own making.

Heed this warning: “In some parts of the world, national borders will become irrelevant,” said Aromar Revi, director of the Indian Institute for Human Settlements and an author of the report on global climate change. “You can set up a wall to try to contain 10,000 and 20,000 and one million people, but not 10 million.”

Climate change is now inevitable, and the displacements happening today. If we continue on our present trajectory, the next twenty years will more closely resemble a dystopian combination of "Mad Max" and "Z" than the pleasant multi-cultural prosperity on Star Trek. And it may be something that the next President of the US seriously has to deal with.

The Camp Fire engulfs Paradise

The Democrats won their majority on the issue of healthcare, but as other Trumpian follies come to the fore, the full scale of the present populist moment of self-inflicted wounds will become as obvious as they have in Britain.

The solutions for these problems won't come from this White House or this flawed President's recidivist thinking. They will require global cooperation, local engagement, political moderation, complicated compromise, free trade, ethical leadership, common sacrifice, respect for diversity, environmental custodianship, and humanitarian compassion. All qualities of our liberal democracy that have gone up in flames in the trash fire of this administration.

No doubt, our public will wake up from this present Trumpian nightmare as well. My only fear - it will be too late.

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