Monday, June 27, 2016

More lessons from Brexit

John Nichols conveys "An Urgent Message From the UK" and urges us to "Take the Trump Threat Seriously."

His remedy: "A progressive politics that addresses the fears of voters who have been battered by austerity, globalization, and deindustrialization is absolutely necessary."

... when I watched the UK count Friday morning—and the stunned reaction of the elite commentators who are always the last to know—I thought of the American cities that have been hit by globalization, outsourcing, and deindustrialization. And I thought of Donald Trump, who has directed so many of the messages of his campaign to the people who feel they have been left behind by political leaders who peddle free-trade schemes like NAFTA, most-favored-nation trading status for China, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Trump may have looked like a fool to knowing observers on Friday, as he celebrated the Brexit vote in Scotland—seemingly unaware that the Scots had just voted by an overwhelming margin to remain in the EU (and may now choose to leave the UK and position itself as an independent and internationalist nation). But Trump is no fool; there are no coincidences with the most cynical presidential contender since Richard Nixon. Trump traveled to the UK with the intent not to speak to Scots, or to Brits, but to Americans—especially to Americans who live in the battleground states where presidential elections are decided.

Democrats should recognize this. Those who seek to stop Trump would be foolish if they failed to see the parallels between his campaign in the US and the Leave campaign in the UK. Indeed, it is with this recognition, and a response to it, that the defeat of Trump can be assured.

“I’m just greatly concerned that Donald Trump will be the nominee of a major political party in this country,” says Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, a Clinton backer who warns that “anything can happen in an election.”

Brown says he is confident about Clinton’s prospects this fall, arguing that she will stand on the right side of trade and economic issues; and it is true that she has declared her opposition to the TPP and spoken of new approaches to trade and job creation. This is a start, but it must go further; Clinton and the Democratic Party must campaign this year with an economic-populist message and an economic-populist ticket that includes a vice-presidential nominee like Brown or Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren or Congressman Keith Ellison. Democrats cannot merely oppose Trump. Democrats must be aggressive in their anti-austerity campaigning, recognizing that the support Bernie Sanders attained was a knowing and necessary cry for a new politics that speaks to all the voters who have been forgotten and left behind in an era of austerity.

That is more than the lesson that Democratic leaders should be learning from the Sanders showing in primary and caucus states. This is an urgent message from the United Kingdom that cannot be ignored by Democrats in the United States.

I think Bernie would agree: bold is better.

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