Andrew Sullivan on Boris Johnson, Labour, and the lessons for America

For a while Andrew Sullivan has been a). strongly criticizing Trump, b). saying that while he opposed Brexit personally, the referendum results should still stand, and c). arguing that the excesses of the American Left endanger our getting a Democrat in the White House in 2020.  I agree with a), don’t know enough about Brexit to venture an educated opinion, and, as for c)., I still think that the Left needs to curb wokeness to appeal to more centrist voters, though I am now more confident than I was a few months ago that Trump can’t win re-election. (You’re allowed to chastise me of that if he does.) But I do think that a hard “Medicare for All” program, with no choice (I do favor a Medicare option for everyone), and a failure to address immigration will constitute serious problems for a Democratic candidate.

In this week’s New York Magazine column, Andrew Sullivan analyzes the reasons for the big win for the Conservatives and Boris Johnson, the big loss for Corbyn and Labour, as well as the Lib Dems, and then argues there are lessons for America, which are pretty much the ones I gave in the last sentence of the previous paragraph. Click on the screenshot to read the piece; it also includes a section on the rising anti-Semitism in both the UK and America.

I’ll give just a few quotes, which are indented.

Why Corbyn and Labour lost. 

The revulsion at Jeremy Corbyn was a big factor — especially, it seems, in the safest Labour seats in the north. The British people, after giving him the benefit of the doubt in 2017, turned on him. On his expansive, super-ambitious plan for massive investment in infrastructure and public services, they just didn’t believe the math. On his rancid long history of sympathizing with terrorists, they feared what he might do to the security services. On his anti-Semitism, they righteously humiliated the old codger. It tells you a lot about him that he still hasn’t resigned after the Labour Party’s worst showing since 1935.

Why Johnson and the Tories won.

Here are the big gambles Johnson took to turn what was a nadir in Tory fortunes — plummeting to 22 percent this summer — into a landslide. He realized, unlike his peers, that ordinary people were close to revolt, and backed the cause of those left behind by the global economy, by grasping the Brexit issue. Without Johnson, the referendum would have been won by Remain. If he’d lost that referendum, his political career would have been over. The second big risk was quitting his own government when its Brexit plan seemed too soft, which he did by resigning as foreign secretary in the summer of 2018. And then, as the May deal failed to pass Parliament, he struck again — winning the leadership contest. In office, he rewrote the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement which the E.U. had said was nonnegotiable, and got his deal passed by a 30-vote majority.

Then the real gamble: Instead of sticking to getting Brexit done in Parliament, he called an early election to give himself a clear mandate for it. By fighting on the genius and simple slogan “Get Brexit Done,” he exposed the deep divides on the left, unified the right, and knocked his opponents for six (if you will forgive a cricket metaphor). But just as important, he moved the party sharply left on austerity, spending on public services, tax cuts for the working poor, and a higher minimum wage. He outflanked the far right on Brexit and shamelessly echoed the left on economic policy.

This is Trumpism without Trump. A conservative future without an ineffective and polarizing nutjob at the heart of it.

I’ll leave it to readers who know more than I, including Dr. Cobb, to analyze Sullivan’s analysis.

The lessons for America’s next election. Here I tend to side with Sullivan, but remember, I’m just a superannuated professor of biology, not a political pundit. But I’m also an American voter.

What does this remarkable result mean for the U.S.? Here are some thoughts: Many will dismiss any lessons are applicable. They’ll say Britain is a very different place, Brexit is a unique issue, and Corbyn was exceptionally unpopular. There’s truth in all that. But take each point. Britain actually is very much like the U.S. right now. It too has become divided between liberal urban elites and everyone else, between nationalists and internationalists, between big cities and everywhere else, between those favoring a crackdown on new immigration and those who revel in open borders with 28 other countries. The polarization, tribalism, legislative gridlock: It’s uncanny how similar the places feel these days. And there’s a historical pattern in which Britain echoes the U.S. in political shifts: Thatcher and Reagan, George H.W. Bush and John Major, Blair and Clinton, Obama and Cameron, Brexit and Trump. I guess you can say this time it’s different. I suspect not.

. . . Even on health care, which should have been Corbyn’s strongest issue, his spending plans were so fantastically huge that he lost credibility. Johnson wisely heaped praise on socialized medicine and proposed a big increase in investment but came nowhere near Labour’s proposals. And yet he won. It seems to me that the difference between Johnson and Corbyn is somewhat like that between Buttigieg and Bernie. A push left is essential. But a huge and unaffordable shift left? The British working classes said no. The same, I suspect, will happen here. If the Democrats go with Sanders or Warren’s Medicare for All, the Democrats could be obliterated. If the Democratic candidate cannot persuade people he or she wants to halt mass illegal immigration, ditto.

And then there’s the bit below, which is relevant to what will be my next post (a nice video about the excesses of Leftism from Andrew Doyle, the creator of Titania McGrath. You’ll see it at about noon.)

Labour’s policy-makers and intellectuals had no idea they were going to be electorally slaughtered, because London is the same bubble as New York, D.C., San Francisco, and Austin. I had very intelligent Labour friends of mine telling me this week that Corbyn could well pull off a miracle. And the knee-jerk reaction of Left Twitter to the results does not suggest that bubble is even close to being pricked. But London is not England. And Brooklyn, thank God, is not America. In the immortal words of the anti-Corbyn lefty Nick Cohen: “Never mistake your Twitter feed for your country.”

Cohen’s remark is about the pithiest piece of wisdom I’ve read all year, and the Left should be paying attention to it. Yes, I’ll vote for whomever the Democrats nominate, for the worst Democrat is better than the best Republican, especially Trump, who’s a dreadful Republican and a dreadful person. But a candidate who wants to put everyone on government healthcare and basically open our borders—which seems to be what some Democrats want—does so at their own peril.

Sullivan’s piece on anti-Semitism is a good one, with some scary statistics. But I’ve dwelt on that issue at length and you can read what Andrew says for yourself. The one thing I didn’t know was that after the killing of the policeman and three civilians in a kosher supermarket in Jersey City, the odious Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, whom I believe is a disingenuous anti-Semite, immediately blamed the murders on “white supremacy”. She since deleted the tweet (without apologizing for it or correcting it), but here’s a screenshot:

Unfortunately, this was not white supremacy: the two killers were black members of the Black Hebrew Israelite movement, and the killing has been branded an anti-Semitic hate crime.

It would have been nice if Tlaib had waited to find out who the killers were, and why they struck, before posting a divisive and incorrect tweet. But of course she has an agenda.  How repugnant to quietly remove what she said without correcting it or apologizing for it! She would have made a lousy scientist.

h/t: Simon


  1. Posted December 14, 2019 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    There’s an obvious temptation (especially for Americans) to compare Boris Johnson to Trump. But really, it’s not a sensible thing to do.

    Boris is a serious politician with a long-track record of electoral success, and is overall a far more capable person than Trump (just for example, he is a noted columnist and author having written several popular and well-selling books; can you imagine Trump doing that?).

    Further, leaving the issue of Brexit aside (since that cuts across party lines), he’s always been regarded as on the moderate wing of the Tory party. (Which means he’s likely closer to American Democrats on many issues than to Republicans.)

    Yes, he has his faults (his personal self-centred ambition, and his “tactical” relationship to the truth) but he’s really not anything remotely akin to Trump.

    • David Harper
      Posted December 14, 2019 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

      In response to the assertion that Johnson is a “noted author”, I’ll just leave this review of his “biography” of Churchill by Richard Evans, who is a real historian.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted December 14, 2019 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

      … he [Boris Johnson] is a noted columnist and author having written several popular and well-selling books; can you imagine Trump doing that?

      My goodness, you’re not suggesting that the Donald didn’t actually write The Art of the Deal and other books that bear his name on their title page, are you? Why, the man is practically the American Proust!

      I do wonder whether he’s ever actually read a book, cover to cover. If he’s even once made a literary allusion while speaking or tweeting, I’ve missed it.

  2. Posted December 14, 2019 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    And yes, the lesson for Labour is clear: to get elected you need a moderate, centrist leader who appeals to voters and who accepts a capitalist/market economy, but just wants to do a bit more wealth redistribution than the Tories would. Tony Blair showed exactly how to do it.

    Don’t go for raw-red, far-left, “smash the system” anti-Capitalists like Corbyn and McDonnell. (That’s leaving aside their support for any anti-West, terrorism-supporting cause they can find.)

    The problem for Labour is that many of its activists would rather go down to heavy defeat under the latter banner, than win under the former. And they get exactly that, not having learnt their lesson under Michael Foot. (They still have the delusion that the latter is popular enough to get them elected.)

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted December 14, 2019 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

      I think Corbynite Labour activists will have to take their lumps and, well, shut the fuck up for a while. There will be a low level of tolerance for their habit of throwing their weight around and threatening deselection every time an MP says anything that goes against far-left dogma.
      We have lived with Corbyn and tolerated him through gritted teeth. He’s been treated by his party a lot better than he himself treated it throughout his career. Bafflingly, he’s been given two bites at the GE cherry, despite his obvious lack of interest in campaigning, compromise, reaching out, the media, electoral politics and democracy in general, and despite his shambolic job as opposition leader. His approach to Brexit has been infuriating for every Remain voter in the country.

      There has been a certain resignation on the part of centre-left/centre Labour voters and MPs, as well as remainers, w/r/t Corbyn over the last few years. He has been ensconced in his role and popular(although decreasingly so) with the party members. We knew he wasn’t going anywhere before now.
      But this is as total a repudiation of him and his political approach as it’s realistically possible to receive from an electorate, and unless he and Momentum(or at least the sense that Momentum are pulling the strings) are excised from the party Labour is finished.

      I can guarantee that, like Trump once he’s gone, Corbyn will be a stick with which opposition parties beat Labour for decades to come unless the party rids itself of the general sense that he still owns it. There is a stain there that needs to be thoroughly scrubbed off.

      …And while my instinct was that he’d try and wangle one of his acolytes a shot at leader, because he hasn’t quite done enough existential damage to British politics yet and he wants to set a charmless little allotment cherry on top of the cake, even I didn’t think he’d be quite so shameless as to skulk around until next year. ‘Sometime early next year’. Well yes, of course, because you’ve been so useful until now, we need you for any kind of transition right? This isn’t Alex Ferguson choosing his successor – this is Gollum hoarding his ring because he can’t bear to see it wrenched from his grasp.

      Go Corbyn, for the love of god. …And the daft bicycle you rode in on.

      • JezGrove
        Posted December 14, 2019 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

        Yes, good riddance to Corbyn – but we need the manipulative people around him to go as well. They stitched up the candidate selection in Bassetlaw (only succeeding after an extremely dodgy second attempt): And the result in the general election? The biggest swing from Labour to the Tories of the night. Serves them bl**dy well right, but it’s a shame that the people who needed a decent Labour government will have to pay the price of the defeat necessary to remove Corbyn from office.

        • Saul Sorrell-Till
          Posted December 14, 2019 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

          Absolutely. I say so in my comment. There’s no use in Corbyn going if his acolytes still control the party. If that’s how things turn out – and it’s pretty obvious Corbyn’s giving himself enough time to ensure just such a transition with his ‘I’ll leave next year’ bullshit – it will be the end of Labour as a serious party.

          And as ever with his supporters they refuse to accept anything but total ideological conformity from their party leaders. The thought that you have to appeal to more than just the people you hang around with on a daily basis, that you might even have to appeal to voters with whom you fundamentally disagree on everything, is sacrilegious to them. The absolute basics of electoral democracy are anathema.

          And as you say, with too many of these fuckwits(I’m paraphrasing) it’s just a game. A way to posture and play at being a grown up, and then they can get interested in something else, like new-age religion, or anal bleaching.

          But this isn’t a game. People will suffer, people will die, as an indirect result of those Corbynites’ fervent belief that moderate Labour MPs are ‘just as bad as the Tories’*.
          There were plenty of decent people in Momentum. But far too many at the top, particularly those who shouted the loudest, were people who had no real skin in the game if a Conservative government started hacking away at the state. They’ll be fine, but the rest of food bank Britain will suffer.

          *BTW, if you ever hear anyone say that again you are legally allowed to push a bead up their nose.

    • David Coxill
      Posted December 14, 2019 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

      Someone on my new fav Facebook site has suggested Dan Jarvis as the next Labour leader .

      But someone pointed out he is a Friends of Israel Member ,someone else asked what’s wrong with that .And someone else said ask a Palestinian .

      Don’t know much about him ,but if he leads to the next Labour govt i am all for him.

      • Posted December 14, 2019 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

        Labour went wrong when they went for the wrong Milliband.

        • JezGrove
          Posted December 14, 2019 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

          To be fair, they looked very similar ;o)

      • JezGrove
        Posted December 14, 2019 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

        Dan Jarvis was suggested as Labour Party leader back in 2015 after Ed Milliband stood down, but he decided not to run. He was lucky to be re-elected this week – the Brexit Party and Conservative Party votes combined easily exceeded his own.

        • Saul Sorrell-Till
          Posted December 14, 2019 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

          I can’t help but be a bit contemptuous of the Labour MPs who only come forward now. I’m sure they’ll say it was pointless trying to run against Corbyn and I also understand that argument, but it shows a certain weakness and lack of confidence if they only start vying for the role of leader now. We’ve put up with Corbyn for 3 years, and no-one has dared stick their head above the parapet besides Owen Smith.

          • JezGrove
            Posted December 14, 2019 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

            True. For what it’s worth, Dan Jarvis backed Owen Smith’s leadership bid. But there were inarguably other people with a better chance of winning than Smith who ducked out of putting themselves forward and should be regretting that now.u

  3. Randall Schenck
    Posted December 14, 2019 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    I think Sullivan compares apples and oranges and maybe the taste confuses him. Britten’s situation is far different than here and their politics is different. Maybe being from Britten confuses him? Sullivan is also one of those lost republicans if you look closely and became disenchanted with Bush. He fell out long before David Books but ended up in the same nowhere place. All they have left is writing and talking.

    Johnson is a far cry for Trump and there are very few comparisons. Did Johnson send runners over to Russia to invite them into his campaign? Are several of Johnson’s people now doing time in Prison? Did he make any deals with Ukraine if they would just announce they were trying to affect the British elections and dig up some dirt on others. Does Johnson have a reputation as a slimy, narcissistic, lying moron with little understanding of anything. Is Johnson putting little kids in cages at the boarder and stealing money from the tax payers to build a wall? I have a lot more but will give it a rest. I also wonder how it is that one candidate’s plan, whatever it is, becomes such fear to the herd that they go running over a cliff months before the first primary. It is a fixation that resembles cement.

    • sted24
      Posted December 14, 2019 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

      “Does Johnson have a reputation as a slimy, narcissistic, lying moron with little understanding of anything.”

      He does if you believe many opinion pieces (and comments thereon) in The Guardian. And as regards purloining public money, there is the still unresolved matter of the funding of a comely American blonde…

      Still, you and Coel are largely correct. Johnson, despite his many and manifest flaws, is in no way comparable to Trump.

      On the other hand, I am with Sullivan: any Democratic push too far to the left will be disastrous.

      • chrism
        Posted December 14, 2019 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

        “On the other hand, I am with Sullivan: any Democratic push too far to the left will be disastrous.”

        I see a common error in party political strategy in two party systems. When one party succeeds by moving further, let’s say, right, their opponents counter by moving further left. Yet if a move to the right is successful, then the best counter move is to be just that bit left of them. You will be looked on favourably by those who like the rightward move, and also pick up those a bit uncomfortable with its extent. You also keep everyone to the left of your new position as they have no one else for whom to vote.
        The best current example of course is in the US. Trump, a man morally and intellectually unfit for office (if I need say it here), has done well for himself pandering to populist, nationalist and xenophobic sentiments. I can’t imagine why the Democrats think that making themselves resemble the loony left of student politics will play well. They should look at the things that Trump is succeeding with and counter with more moderate versions. Instead of Trump’s outright xenophobic illegal alien scares, a sensible, humane immigration policy should be what they offer, not open borders. They need game theory, not signals of virtue. Perhaps it all comes down to Nick Cohen’s insight on their Twitter feeds.

        • Posted December 16, 2019 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

          If the “be just a little to the center from the other guy’s position” strategy were so foolproof, we’d be talking about Hillary’s re-election campaign. It’s way more complicated than you – or conventional wisdom – have painted it. Getting out your party’s base is a huge factor. Being perceived by voters as an honest advocate of coherent positions is also important – even when the voter doesn’t entirely agree with the positions.

    • JezGrove
      Posted December 14, 2019 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

      We don’t know about Boris Johnson’s ties to Russia because he refused to publish the report about Russian interference in the UK, despite the fact that the security and intelligence agencies had cleared it for publication. Certainly some rich Russians who have now obtained British citizenship under a golden visa scheme set up by the Conservatives have been generous donors to the Tories. And the Conservative Party treasurer, Ehud Sheleg, has some interesting connections.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted December 14, 2019 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

      ‘reputation as a slimy, narcissistic, lying moron with little understanding of anything.’ Well I guess the lying part is true.
      He is no idiot though, he must be aware that Brexit is grist to Mr Putin’s mill. Does he think that the harm of Brexit is not great enough to cause real damage to democracy and the values of enlightenment? (I think that might have been if the US were not burdened with Mr Trump simultaneously).

      Apart from his despicable snti-semitism and support for Islamic terrorist organisations, Mr Corbyn was also a closet Brexiteer. Remainers had little choice but to throw their votes at the Lib Dems, who do not stand a realistic chance in a two party system, preventing many to vote for them.
      The election of Mr Corbyn as Labour leader has been a disaster for Labour, the UK, the EU and the Western Alliance.

    • Posted December 15, 2019 at 11:55 am | Permalink

      The country is “Britain”. Or UK. 🙂

  4. DrBrydon
    Posted December 14, 2019 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Interesting piece on Quillette about the UK election:

    • Steve Pollard
      Posted December 14, 2019 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

      That article is well worth reading, even though Toby Young is himself a fully-paid-up member of the metropolitan elite. As other commentators have noted, ordinary British people are deeply patriotic, don’t like (as they see it) being told what to do by foreigners, and were appalled at the prospect of being led by a man who appears to support any government or organisation that is opposed to this country, from the Soviet Union to Hamas, Hezbollah and the IRA.

      These are the people whose sons (and daughters) join the ranks of the Armed Forces and the police, and they have had enough of Corbyn and his student union acolytes doing such institutions down. They will not come back to Labour until the stables have been cleaned out. Given the extent to which the stables have been packed to the rafters with Corbynite true believers, this could take more than one five-year Parliamentary cycle to achieve.

    • Deodand
      Posted December 14, 2019 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

      Interesting read, but did he have to quote Titania McGrath with a straight face…

  5. Jon Gallant
    Posted December 14, 2019 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    Coel in post #1 is clearly correct about
    BoJo. As a pragmatic Tory moderate (i.e., as an MP and London mayor), he was analogous to Mitt Romney rather than Trump & Co. The Corbo has no real analogue in US politics, although an amalgam of Rashida Tlaib and Chris Hedge does come to mind.

    UK/US analogies may be slippery, but I am sometimes impressed by the similarities, as Sullivan mentions. Two weeks after the terrorist attacks of 9/11/01, I attended a US Leftwing discussion of the event, and was struck by the amount of virtuous anger—directed at the US, which was the attacks’ victim. At the same time, an exactly equivalent meeting in London, led by the Corbo and a clutch of Trots, birthed the Stop The War Coalition. This outfit, designed to protest in advance against anything the US might do, has faithfully followed this line ever since. The difference between the UK and the US is that no formal STWC was
    formed in the US, but the attitude is here.

  6. Posted December 14, 2019 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    Boris is a very clever man who knows how to judge people and exactly what strings to pull to get his way. He is rather loose in his behaviour but many don’t care about that , they are taken in by charisma.
    Jeremy is as straight as a die and a born idealist who could never compromise ; he sees things in black and white and his actions line up with his character. Remember he was pushed into power , such men cannot compromise it is there great weakness at the polls.
    Donald is exceptionally shrewd and has his eye on the game at all times . He knows his own weakness and hides it exceptionally well . Add to this he has a turn of phrase marking him out , making him Charismatic in his own way.
    He has brought a different type of politics onto the scene and it has great popular appeal. I would not be surprised to see him in for another term.

  7. sted24
    Posted December 14, 2019 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    In a little noticed development, Labour now has more women MPs than men: 104:98.

    It will be interesting to watch how that works out.

    • JezGrove
      Posted December 14, 2019 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

      Thanks, sted24 – I’d missed that interesting fact.

    • David Coxill
      Posted December 15, 2019 at 10:58 am | Permalink

      And ,maybe i am peeing in the wind ,but Labour increased it’s share of the vote and got more votes than that nice Mr Blair did in 2005 .
      Don’t think i will bother voting again until FPTP is scrapped and we get some sort of PR in place .

  8. Historian
    Posted December 14, 2019 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    I try to follow American politics fairly closely, but I take predictions and recommended electoral strategy proposals with a grain of salt. One need not spend much time on the internet to find pundits (all who speak with absolute confidence) that differ on the following.

    1. Trump will win easily or the Democrat will win easily;
    2. The Democrats should choose a leftist or the Democrats should choose a centrist;
    3. The Democrats should concentrate on converting Trump supporters or Democrats should try to appeal to the vast number of previous non-voters;
    4. Trump can win with his current base or needs to expand it;
    5. The Republican Party is near collapse or the Democratic Party is near collapse.

    The fact is that the pundits are merely guessing (as I am when making my recommendations). Ultimately, these questions will be answered. Some pundits will look like geniuses; others like fools. Some of the latter will confess their errors, but no matter, because those who turn out wrong will continue their punditry. In the punditry game, there are no consequences for being wrong.

    In time, the Democrats will choose their candidate and both camps will initiate their electoral strategies. Only one of the strategies will be successful. For the losing side, the strategists may point out where they went wrong, although the confession will be laden with excuses, and they will quickly be on the hunt to find new clients. I am sorry I missed the opportunity to make “political strategist” my career choice.😊

    • phoffman56
      Posted December 14, 2019 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

      However, one can be quite certain of one thing: namely that the Drumpf party have many people working away to ‘destroy’ each possible opposition candidate running against their jerk. They are inventing lies about their target, testing them out somehow, being certain that large numbers in the electorate will fall for the lies, even after a perfectly clear determination by neutral fact finders that it is a blatant lie. Biden has already been smeared with a first big lie which is known to be one.

      • Posted December 14, 2019 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

        It was pointed out recently by a CNN pundit that Ukraine no longer needs to investigate the Bidens. Trump and his cronies already have people talking about whether the Bidens are corrupt which is all he could have ever expected from Ukraine. It’s disgusting.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted December 14, 2019 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

      One prediction I think can be made safely is that Donald Trump will not win a majority of the popular vote in 2020. (I will lay two-to-one odds right now to anyone who wants to bet that Trump will get 50%+ of the 2020 vote, regardless who the Democratic candidate ends up being).

      Republicans have lost the popular vote in six of the last seven elections, and in two of those elections, the Republican losers (Dubya, in 2000; Romney, 2012) won a higher percentage of the vote than did Donald Trump in 2016. (Two others — Poppy Bush in 1992 and Bob Dole in 1996 — likely would have topped Trump’s 46.1% 2016 total, were it not for third-party candidate Ross Perot drawing much of his support from them.) The only Republican to win 50%+ of the popular vote in the last seven presidential elections was Bush Junior in 2004, and that election was an outlier, given how the nation rallied around Dubya after the 9/11 attacks.

      Trump’s support is fervent, but narrow, even by Republican standards, and has shrunk since he has taken office. Trump won the electoral college in 2016 essentially by drawing an inside straight by winning three key states — Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin — by fewer than 78,000 votes out of approximately 14 million cast in those states.

      Perhaps he’ll pull another inside straight and win the electoral college total again in a similar manner in 2020, but the odds are against it. In this nation’s 58 prior presidential elections, only four candidates pulled off the feat before Trump — none during the 112 year period from 1888 to 2000. And no incumbent US president has ever won reelection while losing the popular vote.

  9. Posted December 14, 2019 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    Corbyn says he will resign after “a period of reflection.” You got your ass handed to you on a plate, Corbyn. That should take five seconds of reflection. Corbyn made himself the face of the Labor Party turning off voters who might have voted for their local Labor MP but were turned off by this odious, anti-semitic old codger.

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted December 14, 2019 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

      He’s stupid – as in, not very bright, lacking intellect – but he’s also sly. He’s hanging on until next year so he can ensure that some equally unelectable acolyte gets his job, and that his dead, vote-killing hand remains on the tiller of the SS Trot-tanic for the foreseeable future.

      • A C Harper
        Posted December 14, 2019 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

        I believe you are right – Corbyn is hanging on to assure that Continuity Corbyn takes over. But real life moves on.

        Corbyn was thought to be in favour of Leaving the EU, but most of the sections of the Labour Party favoured Remain. Hence the Labour manifesto fudge of renegotiation and then campaigning for Remain in a ‘second referendum’ which disappointed both Leavers and Remainers.

        By the time the New Leader is decided the UK will have legally left the EU. The New Leader will have to decide how to react in that situation.

    • Jon Gallant
      Posted December 14, 2019 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

      But remember, the Corbo isn’t anti-semitic:
      he is just virtuously opposed to “the cycle of violence”, but only when Israel shoots back after it is attacked (or any action by NATO, because the USA is in it). And he is even a little squeamish about violence by British police.

      What a pity it is that Corbo and his antics became the face of the Labour Party. The 2019 Manifesto is largely unexceptionable,
      but his face on it did it no good. Now, in some quarters the Manifesto will be called
      “extreme” simply due to Corbo’s connection with it. Conversely, during the “period of reflection”, the Corbynistas will insist that criticism of Beloved Leader is part of a conspiracy against the Manifesto, Labour Party principles, Justice, and Virtue. And a few of them will explain that the conspiracy against Beloved Leader was instigated by

  10. Randall Schenck
    Posted December 14, 2019 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    I’ll not talk about Britain and their elections anymore or at least until I learn how to spell it.

    We do have this little impeachment thing coming up and yes the result is known. Moscow Mitch has already told us on Fox yesterday announcing that he will be in lock step with the furor on the golf course. Mitch is so shameless he pronounces he will insure that he is in compete agreement with Trump and whoever his lawyer will be. Certainly there is no longer any need for Mitch to take the oath of a juror since the verdict is in before the trial starts. It should be a quick trial depending on tee time and further instructions from the dear leader Putin.

    A nice boring democratic candidate such as Biden should be a good pick. As long as he does no debates with Trump and speaks only from the prompter he might just get by. The real question will be who wants to be his VP.

    • Simon Hayward
      Posted December 14, 2019 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

      If it’s Biden my VP bets are Kamala Harris, who is well credentialed but ran a terrible campaign, or Stacy Abrams (balance the ticket). I would not be surprised if there is an undisclosed deal that he only serve one term. But we’ll never know until it happens. I’d rather vote for someone younger, but Biden is the safest choice I suppose. He has always mangled his words, so less worried about the with him than with Trump for whom slurring and confusion seems a more recent failing

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted December 14, 2019 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

        We should try to remember that Biden tried to run for president a couple of times and did very poorly. Obama selected him for VP because he was kind of like Obama, middle of the road and boring. I think he has become a lot older and not that much smarter. One other important thing I have with Biden who has been a politician all his life, he thinks he knows something about foreign affairs. I do not see it. He voted to go into Iraq, just as Clinton did. He sat right next to Obama while he made the awful mistake of staying in Afghanistan and even sending in a bunch more military. Eight years later he had accomplished nothing, absolutely nothing. Where was Biden in all this mess? I don’t like him and I think he is just all politician and nothing else.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted December 14, 2019 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

      There are rumblings from Trumpworld that the Donald does not want to participate in any 2020 debates.

      I’m betting that, if Joe Biden is the candidate and is running ahead of Trump in the polls, Trump will flip-flop and be begging for debates faster than you can say “No puppet, no puppet, you’re the puppet.”

  11. Posted December 14, 2019 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.

  12. Posted December 14, 2019 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    So what is the problem with Medicare for all?

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted December 14, 2019 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

      I think the only problem with it is that no one has properly defined it. We already have a thing called medicare, I know because I am on it. It is not free and it is not paying 100 percent of anything. Maybe ask Sanders to explain what the hell he means by Medicare for all because it sounds like something else. My medicare cost money. You pay for it every month. You also paid for it long before you started getting it. Not that much but something. Ask Sanders, why is it paying for everything and free. Who asked for that? I think Warren got suckered into going for Sanders medicare without giving it enough thought. Politicians often make stupid decisions.

    • EdwardM
      Posted December 14, 2019 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

      Simply put; if the Democrats run on it in 2020, Trump will be re-elected.

      • Posted December 17, 2019 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

        Despite the fact that polls actually show support for it (or something like it) by a majority of the population.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted December 14, 2019 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

      Problem with it is that the horse of American public opinion needs to be led a little further before a voting majority will be willing to drink. A “public option” is the main waypoint on that journey.

    • Hunt
      Posted December 15, 2019 at 6:25 am | Permalink

      Nothing at all, except that insurance companies have spent millions convincing Americans it’s unaffordable and ineffective.

      Guys, check out insurance company executive pay packages. How much bread do they spend on advertising alone? Marketing? What about the inefficiencies of scale? Duplication of medical equipment?

      For the love of G-d, stop being duped by insurance company lies.

  13. dd
    Posted December 14, 2019 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    The Black Hebrew Israelites were the same group who harrassed and hurled homophobic and ractists insults at the children from Covington school while they were Washington,DC. Yes, those Covington kids.

  14. Posted December 14, 2019 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    Britain actually is very much like the U.S. right now. It too has become divided between liberal urban elites and everyone else,

    The UK’s urban centers account for over 55 million of their citizens. Only just over 11 million are rural.

    When the cities make up such a huge majority of the population, well claims of “urban elites” smell a bit suspect to say the least.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted December 14, 2019 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

      I don’t think over here in the states it’s just that simple. The politics is somewhat urban verses rural but it is regional. That is why we have red states and blue states and a few in the middle. All of the red states in the midwest and south would look rural if you live in New York City or Chicago.

    • Steve Pollard
      Posted December 14, 2019 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

      I think that’s very misleading. The UK’s ‘urban centres’ are not all big cities. Many – maybe most – are medium-sized towns, a lot of which have suffered very badly from losing their mines, steelworks or textile plants. By no stretch of the imagination can they be described as possessing ‘urban elites’. These places – Wakefield, Workington, West Bromwich, Wolverhampton NE and SW, just to stick to the W’s – have gone blue because they felt that the current Labour party was doing nothing for them.

      • Posted December 15, 2019 at 12:35 am | Permalink

        It was the Tories who shut down the mines, steelworks and textile plants, and it is the Tories who still celebrate the PM, Maggie Thatcher, who did that as one of the great PMs.

        But that’s a bit aside my point, my point is that referring to “urban elites” is a lazy cliche used mainly to divide the population and score unearned sympathy points without actually have done anything to help anyone.

        Such that the same people who oppose unions, call programs like the NHI “Socialism” and deeply oppose higher salaries for workers can pretend that they’re somehow on the side of “ordinary people”.

        The “urban elites” do not actually exist, they have never actually existed except as a propaganda ploy that renders either a large minority or an outright majority of citizens as “not real Americans” or “not real British” depending on which nation it is deployed in.

        It is a denial of citizenship attack. A nation should be a nation, with urban and rural centers fulfilling their respective roles to build a stronger nation for the benefit of all, but the “urban elites” myth seeks to disrupt that by painting the rural side of the equation as the only true citizens, thus building rivalry where there should be cooperation.

        And this rivalry is used to screw over both sets. Take healthcare in the US for example.

        In urban centers the health insurance industry has competition, there are multiple insurers you can go with. Go to a rural country – and a lot of those insurers figure the market is too small to be worth bothering with, and so you end up with one insurer having a monopoly, which they then exploit to the hilt.

        Introducing a single payer system is a bigger win for rural voters than urban voters, yet these columnists will constantly push the idea that those pushing single payer are “urban elites”. It is about creating a tribal divide and then exploiting it to the detriment of both tribes.

        It is a nasty little bit of bullshit that should not be tolerated.

      • David Coxill
        Posted December 15, 2019 at 11:06 am | Permalink

        Saw a man from Birmingham (forget where) who didn’t vote Labour because of Corbyns meetings with the IRA ,he mentioned the 1974 IRA bombings of two pubs in Birmingham .

        Don’t know how Labour is going to come back from this defeat .

        • Posted December 15, 2019 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

          I could see a way they could recover, but it would take a lot of guts and a different leader to Corbyn.

          IMO what they should do is, after replacing Corbyn because this goes against him in a big way, put forward a bill in Parliament to ban the police from investigating “non-crime hate incidents”.

          The trouble is it would be a very bold move to make with the fury that would come from the Twitter social justice activists, but at this point, Labour has to be prepared to gamble and I suspect they’d gain a lot more than they’d lose.

    • chrism
      Posted December 15, 2019 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

      “When the cities make up such a huge majority of the population, well claims of “urban elites” smell a bit suspect to say the least.”

      You may not have noticed, but the majority of people living in cities cannot be described as an elite.

      • Posted December 15, 2019 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

        Except the claim of “urban elites” is used to dismiss, for example, the fact that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote.

        That’s just those coastal elites in California innit?

        The majority of people living in cities may not be elite, but the cliche is used to dismiss their political views regardless.

        And that’s exactly how Sullivan is using it. The issues he points to as being more popular with urbanites – well that’s on the strength of polling urbanites, not the strength of polling The Guardian’s editorial team.

    • wetherjeff
      Posted December 16, 2019 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

      I don’t think a valid comparison can be made here. We don’t really have rural backwaters in the UK in the same way as the US. In the UK poverty is concentrated in big city centres and provincial working class towns. Rural areas tend to be more affluent in many cases. There is not a large demographic difference in terms of education, liberal / conservative attitudes, or prosperity based on an urban / rural binary.

  15. dd
    Posted December 14, 2019 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    Dr. Coyne please do not stop writing about anti-semitic attacks as I think that situation is getting worse.

    What do I mean? I think Jews are being slowly turned, yet again, into non-persons. And I think the source of it this go-around is a combination of the racial/social/sexual hierarchies brought about by hate crimes and intersectionality.

    That’s what drives that knee-jerk Tweet from Michigan Democratic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib is about. Happy to condemn if the skin color is white, silence if not.

    I would urge readers to recall the intensity of the news coverage to the Tree of Life murders last year against that of the New Jersey kosher deli store…..which has already slipped from mind. And no, it’s not the number of victim. Instead, compare the races of the perpetrators.

    And this is not a one-off. I see it happening in how the frequent attacks on Jews in Brooklyn is essentially being ignored by the NYTimes, or maybe relegated to the “city” section. Is it because of the identity of the perpetrators? The NYPost carries these events, and there is usually video accompanying it which again and again shows the race of the perpetrator. And it’s not white supremacist or inferiorists.

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted December 14, 2019 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

      I would urge you in turn to remember the almost total silence that has come from the conservative side as multiple, specifically white supremacist mass-murders have happened over just the last year. Trump denies it’s a problem. Tucker Carlson called white supremacy a ‘hoax’. The silence from the right is deafening on this.

      I’ve also seen repeated articles about this Black Hebrew Israelite group – who are designated as a hate group by the SPLC – in the Daily Beast, The Guardian, etc., so I’m not sure who you’re accusing of not acknowledging it besides Rashida Tlaib.

      • dd
        Posted December 14, 2019 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

        Go back and google how the Black Hebrew Israelite antics toward the Covington kids were reported/non-reported in the larger media. Look especially at the NYTimes.

        So, you are saying that the silence by the left that I point out is, what?, made “ok” by the silence on the right?

        Fine, if Trump and Carlson are to be the index through which media integrity is measure, well, there we are.

        • Saul Sorrell-Till
          Posted December 15, 2019 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

          “So, you are saying that the silence by the left that I point out is, what?, made “ok” by the silence on the right?”

          No, I’m saying the silence on the right simply goes unmentioned by you altogether. (I’m not even going to get into all the problems with your claim about ‘silence on the left’.)

          Major figures in the conservative establishment deny that white supremacy exists. Trump won’t admit that it’s even an issue. There’s a white nationalist running Trump’s immigration policy ffs. But that simply doesn’t come up in anything you say in your post, a post that is specifically about political silence on anti-Semitism.

      • dd
        Posted December 14, 2019 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

        I hope you had the chance to read all 3 parts of Sullivan’s article this week…this may also be of interest:

        “The Silence Surrounding Violence Against Us Orthodox Jews Is Deafening”

  16. Filippo
    Posted December 14, 2019 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    “On his [Corbyn’s] anti-Semitism, they righteously humiliated the old codger.”

    I reasonably assume young codger Sullivan hopes to live to at least Corbyn’s age.

  17. Posted December 14, 2019 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    “I am now more confident than I was a few months ago that Trump can’t win re-election.”

    My prediction is a repeat of Clinton v Trump, this time with Biden infuriating progressives and running a conventional mediocre campaign before losing nobly, by a bigger margin than Clinton.

  18. Posted December 14, 2019 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    Quantum supremacy kills.

  19. RRR
    Posted December 14, 2019 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

    Pro tip professor. Free your mind… You’re smarter than this…

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted December 15, 2019 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

      PCC certainly is smarter than that essay.

  20. Hunt
    Posted December 15, 2019 at 6:19 am | Permalink

    Actually I think turning health care over to centrally funded government finance (ie single payer) is about he least radical proposal there is, especially considering it has proven effective in numerous countries as well as our own medicare and veteran’s admins. The radical proposal is that privately run insurance companies will somehow come up with an affordable system of heterogeneous systems (our own system now).

    They don’t. And can’t.

    There is really only one way to do it right. And markets don’t have a role to play. Sorry, capitalists.

  21. Posted December 15, 2019 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    Andrew Sullivan sees “Blundering Brilliance” in Boris Johnson. He probably tries to accurately describe reality as he sees it, but it’s hard to reconcile it with observable facts (he’s plain wrong in many assertions).

    When I stick to this piece now, I have much the same sensation. Where Sullivan pretends the right wing Democrat won, and we clearly need more of that, we actually face a reality where Donald Trump is president. He won against a super-experienced so-called “moderate” Democrat politician who everyone saw in the lead and a surefire bet.

    Sullivan could certainly come up with justifications after the fact. But they open up all sorts of complications that have a double edge. When those reason explain why Hillary Clinton did not make it, how come such reasons cannot explain why Corbyn lost.

    What I see here is simple rationalisation: when a candidate wins, and one agrees with their political direction, they won because the majority really wants the same political direction. When the candidate loses, it depends: When their ideological direction is shared by the pundit, they lost for all sorts of other reasons, but it cannot possibly be an ideological reason. If the pundit disagrees ideologically, the loss is surely and certainly because that political direction is unpopular. It cannot possibly have other reasons that were so readily at hand when a favoured candidate lost.

    When Bernie Sanders was sidelined in the last primaries, despite having an apparent buzz around him (whereas Clinton’s campaign always looked feeble and “less evil”), the argument was that Clinton would dead certainly, 100%, surefire win, people really want Republican-Lite Democrats. That did not happen. Reasons schmeasons.

    The argument that a rightwing so-called “moderate” Democrat would win because they are more (so-called) “centrist” and that’s what people really want — that argument died that day in 2016.

  22. wetherjeff
    Posted December 16, 2019 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    “Does he think that the harm of Brexit is not great enough to cause real damage to democracy and the values of enlightenment?”

    Yes, unfortunately he does, he knows it is catastrophically damaging to the UK, and he simply doesn’t care. For him, the Brexit referendum was a strategic opportunity, he never thought leave would win, but backed it knowing that at the next leadership election he would score highly with the euro-sceptic, blue-rinse, get off my yard, voters that make up a large chunk of the Tory electorate.

    He was always pro-EU, but switched at the last minute. We were treated as a pawn in his own game of thrones. Brexit is the biggest stitch up in British political history, forced on us by scumbag populists, press barons, and mega-rich business figures. Their aims: to increase their leverage in how the country is run, facilitate their free-market dreams of deregulation, removal of rights and protections and super low tax for the rich.

    Rupert Murdoch was once asked why he dislikes the EU so much. His reply was “When I go in to Downing Street, the PM listens. When I visit Brussels, the EU tells me to get lost”. The fact that so many people in the UK have fallen for the lies and self-interest of the rich and powerful is depressing in the extreme. I shouldn’t be surprised though, these people are demagogues of the highest order; they know exactly what buttons to push.

    It’s a matter of record that the referendum was won through fraud. It would have been annulled if it had been a legally binding vote. In addition to Vote Leave’s conviction for electoral fraud, there is copious evidence of dark money, data misuse and foreign interference. And yet the government has pressed on regardless.

    A report on Russian interference in UK elections was recently published by the Cross-Party Intelligence Select Committee. It was finished purposefully before the GE in order that the public had the information. Johnson refused to publish it before the GE, and provided no reasonable justification for his decision. This would have lead to a major scandal a few years ago, but now it is accepted with little fuss. Johnson is more like Trump than many in the US believe.

    The campaign was based on lies, many propagated by Johnson. And on racism, xenophobia, British exceptionalism, swept along by knuckle-dragging nationalist undercurrents.

    It has generated terrible division and anger, and has already damaged our economy – the pound was worth $1.50 before the referendum, it is now around $1.32, and has been as low as $1.24. There is a similar pattern against the Euro. Our money has much less buying power now and people are feeling it. This is the tip of the iceberg – but I will have to put another comment up when I have the time.

    Johnson and many of his cronies should be in jail. One small consolation for me is that, one day, I believe we will see him and his lackeys in criminal court.

    To avoid any ambiguity, yes I am angry. My rights, protections opportunities and security – along with those of my children and family – are being trampled on due to lies, fraud, dark money and foreign interference. All because David Cameron held an unnecessary and historically reckless vote to fix some internal Tory squabbles. And if anyone ells you it was a question that needed dealing with, they don’t know the facts: before Cameron called the vote 12% of people in the UK regarded EU membership as an issue of concern.

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