Guest Opinion: Brexit’s bump for Trump
If you’re a supporter of Donald Trump, last week’s big international news raised your prospects for a bright Nov. 8 as well. British citizens’ rebellion against the European Union is one more vindication of Trump’s campaign calculus on this side of the pond: Millions of voters in Western countries are furious about unchecked immigration, overweening government regulation and slow jobs growth after a recession that ended seven years ago this month.
In short, those voters are furious with developments that have well-served liberal and conservative elites: a globalized economy, the easy movement of migrants between countries, an expanding role for government in the lives of the governed.
We’d wager that, as we type these paragraphs, Hillary Clinton’s game-planners are in full freak-out. The British vote doesn’t repudiate her; she wasn’t on Thursday’s ballot. But she’ll soon be on one here. And to many Americans, she represents just the sort of central-control, heavy-handed, know-it-all ethos that the European Union represents.
This is a humbling moment for anyone who opposes Trump and asked a no vote on Brexit.
Brexit is a big bump for Trump. It ratifies his arguments that citizens should reject the dictates of technocrats, politicians and self-anointed experts.
Clinton’s advisers are smart enough to know that they have to engage the populism and nationalism that have fed both the Brexit revolution and the ascension of Trump. They’re also smart enough to know that U.S. polls showing Clinton leading Trump might be just as reliable as those British polls that projected Remain beating Leave.
The Brexit turbulence reminds us of a passage from British commentator Clive Crook — no fan of Trump — that we noted in early June:
Liberals and conservatives who make a living from politics, or love it as an end in itself, pronounce tirelessly on liberty and social justice and the deep constitutional principles at stake in federal bathroom policy. The rest of the country doesn’t care about this permanent war of ideas and worries more about holes in the road, what’s going on in the schools, depleted retirement savings, and the latest hike in health-insurance deductibles. ... As to whether politics as usual has failed the country and something needs to change, I’d definitely start paying attention to those people. On that important point, they’re absolutely right.
The Brexit vote was about that dangerous disconnect between those who rule and those who are ruled.
As Friday dawned in America, the presidential race here is more up for grabs than it was at sunset Thursday. Brexit attests from afar that this won’t play out as the customary collision of Democrats and Republicans, of liberals and conservatives. A sentiment for protest is rising, if not raging.
You don’t buy it? You still think that as more Americans pay attention to the choice they face, the most established politician will win?
You might ask Prime Minister David Cameron about that. After the crushing Brexit rebuke, he said he would resign.
For that matter you might ask Hillary Clinton or President Barack Obama. They, like Cameron, had urged Brits to stay in the EU.
You might even ask Donald Trump, if you can peel him off the ceiling: He sounded downright jubilant about the Brexit vote in a statement issued Friday: “Come November, the American people will have the chance to re-declare their independence.”
We don’t know what will happen Nov. 8. We do know the game just changed.