Democrats against Democracy

Discussion in 'Politics' started by traderob, Sep 28, 2019.

  1. traderob


    The slings and arrows of outraged elites[​IMG]GREG SHERIDAN
    Illustration: Eric Lobbecke
    • 12:00AM SEPTEMBER 28, 2019
    • 212
    This is the week the empire, the establishment, struck back against its two most dangerous insurrectionists, Donald Trump and Boris Johnson.

    In both the US and Britain, their establishment opponents made huge efforts to bring both men down and destroy their populist agendas. It is key to understand that these efforts were not focused on elections and democratic politics and the ballot box.

    In Britain, the Supreme Court, itself an invention of Tony Blair and only a decade old, made up a whole new chapter of constitutional law and declared that, because of the need to scrutinise Brexit, Johnson’s decision to prorogue parliament for five weeks was unlawful. It was, the Supreme Court said, undemocratic.

    Earlier the High Court of England had ruled, more traditionally, that the courts had no jurisdiction in this as it was plainly a political matter. The Supreme Court overturned them.

    In the US, the Democrats decided to begin the process to impeach Trump over a conversation he had with the Ukrainian President. In the entire history of the US not a single president has been removed from office by impeachment. The closest was Richard Nixon, who resigned to avoid impeachment.

    There is no legal definition of what justifies impeachment but the constitution says it is for “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanours”. The idea that Trump’s conversation with his Ukrainian counterpart justifies this, uniquely in the annals of all US presidential history, is utterly ridiculous.

    Here’s the common thread. What the political class can’t get through the ballot box, it is determined to get through the courts or any other institution it controls.

    Trump and Johnson, the Manhattan property mogul and the Eton toff, are the two most unlikely leaders of the peasants’ revolt you could possibly imagine. The ginger-haired playboys of the Western world are the common people’s champions, drawing support from the forgotten, the blue collar, the outsiders, and gaining the detestation and exorcist-like horror of the left liberal establishment.

    To their opponents they are not just political leaders following the wrong policies, or even very naughty boys, they are the embodiment of living wickedness.

    There is no doubt both Trump and Johnson are flawed individuals, like most people only somewhat more so. But Trump derangement syndrome is now matched by Johnson derangement syndrome in Britain. Whatever either leader says or does is just the latest emanation from a subterranean depth of depravity the liberal mind can only guess at.

    Yet here’s another terrible conundrum. Trump was elected fair and square. Johnson was elected leader of the Conservative Party by an overwhelming margin in a completely orderly process.

    Nothing that Trump has done has been more offensive to the liberal establishment than his attempt to keep his election promises: withdrawing from some trade agreements and renegotiating others; withdrawing from the Paris Agreement on climate change; pursuing bilateral trade outcomes; emphasising “America first” nationalism over multilateralism; deregulating business to create jobs, including environmental deregulation; supporting manufacturing investment; increasing defence spending; and securing America’s borders.

    All the Trump scandals — Russian collusion, withholding his tax returns, Stormy Daniels — have so far come to nothing. You can make a strong case that Trump behaved badly in all these matters. He deserves to be criticised. That’s what happens in democratic politics. But his opponents have lost faith in democracy. They don’t believe robust criticism followed by judgment at the ballot box is any longer good enough.

    The same is true in Britain where Johnson’s greatest sin is to try to honour the 2016 referendum which, in the biggest vote for anything in British history, decided the nation would leave the EU.

    In both countries the liberal elite has decided the people who vote for such things — Trump and Brexit — are horrible people or horribly deluded.

    In the US, Hillary Clinton famously said that half of Trump’s voters were “the basket of deplorables” — racists, sexists, homophobes etc. Barack Obama made a similar judgment in different words when he said that people without hope would bitterly “cling to their religion and their guns”.

    Now, every emanation of support for Trump is judged “white racist” even if its progenitors are black, Asian or Hispanic.

    In Britain, a Liberal Democrat MP from the west of the country was asked why her constituency voted overwhelming to leave the EU. She explained that the electorate was mainly composed of white people and the voters didn’t see many foreigners so they tended to be afraid of outsiders. Imagine if she was talking about people whose vote she wasn’t courting!

    It is not necessary to sign up to an anti-globalist conspiracy theory view of the world, much less a sinister deep state conspiracy view, to recognise what is plain and undeniable. There is a very big left liberal establishment in the civil service, media, academe, much of the judiciary and transnational bureaucracy across the Western nations. Though naturally varied, its general ideological view is that the West is guilty of unique sins in history and ought therefore be forever apologetic, the nation-state is an obsolete roadblock to progress, humanity is best liberated from religion, progressive politics and increasingly identity politics represent the good, the West’s military power is best not emphasised or invested in, old traditions are bad while new traditions are sacred, and the only true morality and enlightened policies emanate exclusively from the left liberal establishment itself.

    This establishment receives its scriptural interpretations and general campaign direction in the pages of The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Le Monde and on CNN and in large parts of the BBC. This is one reason centre-right populists routinely campaign against much of the mainstream media, which they rightly see as committed politically against them.

    Thus, for all their manifest political and human deficiencies, Trump and Johnson are fighting for the soul of the West. Therefore while both attract spectacular opprobrium, they both attract fierce support, too, from people who idealise them as champions for folks the left liberal establishment would prefer to ignore, to people who recognise their many faults but think their overall cause worth supporting.

    Take their latest controversies.

    On July 25, Trump spoke by phone to the new Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky. The White House released a partial transcript of the conversation. The first part is hilarious. Zelensky sings Trump’s praises and says he learnt from and imitated Trump. There is actually a serious point here. Zelensky was formerly a comedian. He ran a populist campaign on a platform of contempt for politics as usual and a promise to eradicate corruption. He won a slashing, surprise victory. A lot of politicians around the world have watched Trump’s success as a series of innovations that many want to emulate.

    Trump says to Zelensky he wants a favour and asks Zelensky to have a general look at the allegations arising out of Ukrainian politics, which ensnared some of Trump’s early advisers, though his language is very vague. He then, a bit later in the conversation, says there’s a lot of talk about Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, and anything “you can find” about that would be great.

    This is improper and unethical. It does not remotely rise to an impeachment offence. Some days before the conversation the Trump administration had temporarily withheld nearly $400m in aid to Ukraine. This was released a little while later. Trump says the aid was held up because he wanted Europeans to do more to help Ukraine and because he was worried about corruption in Ukraine. Trump’s critics say it was held up to give Trump leverage to get Zelensky to find some dirt on the Bidens.

    There is no mention of the aid at all in the conversation so it will likely be impossible to prove Trump used the aid as blackmail. In any event it’s a very poor show by Trump. He deserves to be criticised. It is not something that would justify overturning his democratic election.

    Remember that Bill Clinton was impeached in 1998 not for having an affair with Monica Lewinsky but for lying about it under oath to a grand jury. Lying under oath is a criminal offence, unlike anything Trump is accused of. The Democrats who defended Clinton didn’t deny he had lied under oath. Rather, they said Republicans were motivated by a general hatred of Clinton and that lying, even under oath, about an affair with an intern was not serious enough to drive Clinton from office, to overturn his election. In the end, the American people agreed. In its way, the whole episode significantly debauched American politics. The Republicans were disliked for using impeachment improperly but the Democrats established that even guilt in a criminal offence is not enough to overturn a president’s election.

    The Democrats may well impeach Trump in the House of Representatives but if they do there will be a subsequent trial in the Senate. The Democrats would need 20 Republican senators to vote to convict Trump to secure the necessary two-thirds majority. There is no chance of this.

    Consider the Bidens for a moment. Joe Biden was vice-president. His son, Hunter Biden, had no background in Ukrainian affairs or in the gas industry. Yet he was appointed to the board of Ukraine’s biggest gas company, in the hands of a state-connected oligarch, and paid hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for his services.

    Joe Biden, meanwhile, took the lead on administration policy towards Ukraine and, among other things, demanded, ironically as a condition of Ukraine receiving aid from the Obama administration, that the chief state prosecutor be sacked. This state prosecutor was a very weak enemy of corruption.

    There is no proof at all that Biden and his son did anything illegal, or even wrong. But even the ultra-friendly New York Times chastised Biden for this highly irregular arrangement. Just imagine the moral panic, the core meltdown, the screeching crime against humanity that would be alleged, if Trump and his son had such an arrangement. Similarly, when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, Bill Clinton secured huge donations to his foundation, and massive personal speaking fees, from nations and international bodies that wanted the favour of the secretary of state.

    Both sides of politics are hypocritical about matters such as this, but Trump’s supporters rightly believe that the sanctimonious outrage from the left liberal establishment is selective, dishonest and politically based.

    Now the whistleblower, apparently a disgruntled CIA agent, has come forward with the statement that started off the whole Ukraine controversy. The whistleblower didn’t witness or hear the conversation and his statement doesn’t add much. It shows that the White House tried to keep the record of the conversation secret. This has led to cries of cover-up and the inevitable Watergate comparisons.

    But wait a minute, the conversation was meant to be confidential anyway. How can a government be covering up something that is already meant to be secret?

    The political calculations of the Democrats are murky. Their activist base, and their own extreme rhetoric about Trump, probably made an impeachment effort at some point inevitable. But actually the US economy is going very well, the jobless rate is the lowest since before man walked on the moon, Trump’s approval ratings are pretty good. Maybe Democrats think creating the same stink and polarisation as light time might produce an equally close result and they could luck out an election win.

    The demonisation of Johnson in Britain is even more bizarre. He prorogued parliament, as prime ministers have been doing for centuries. If a PM did this indefinitely to avoid a vote of no-confidence it would be an outrage to democracy. But Johnson gave MPs days and days notice of the prorogation, which was only for five weeks. They had every opportunity to move “no confidence” or pass any other legislation they liked.

    Johnson’s core commitment is to honour the referendum, and indeed the Tory manifesto at the last election, and leave the EU with a deal if possible, with no-deal if necessary. A couple of dozen Tory Remainers have defected so Johnson no longer has the confidence of parliament. But he can’t call an election because of the absurd Fixed Terms Parliament Act. He needs two-thirds of parliament to agree to an early election. All of Johnson’s critics demonise him savagely. He is a dictator, a near-Nazi, a racist, a monster, a sexist, an over-inflated bath toy, an enemy of democracy, a hateful figure, an idiot, a leader of masturbatory public school boy crony ministers, an enemy of the people and so on. At the same time, the people who say all this also lament he has reduced civility in British debate.

    But wait, there’s more. The political parties that label him a dictator etc will not allow him to call an election because, after everything, he still leads Labour in the polls. So, in the most grotesque distortion in British political history for several hundred years, the House of Commons is passing laws to force him to implement policy — seeking an extension so Britain stays in the EU — that is directly opposite to the Tory manifesto and his government’s core policies. They might as well pass a law requiring him to join the Labour Party. And they even threaten to put him in jail if he doesn’t comply.

    He was especially demonised this week because he said a Labour MP’s claim that this rhetoric was causing violence was “humbug”.

    Here is the standard of the left liberal establishment. They can call you a dictator, near-Nazi etc. That’s all fine. If you say humbug you are threatening the very basis of civic decency.

    They also object to him calling the opposition’s law requiring him to agree to whatever terms the EU offers a “surrender bill”, surely the most accurate, modest, political rhetoric anywhere in the Brexit debate.

    Meanwhile the British Labour Party, like the US Democrats, has careened off in an extreme left direction, promising four-day weeks, the socialisation of 10 per cent of every big company, open borders, the abolition of private schools, tax hikes, wildly radical decarbonisation, more public holidays, massive nationalisation. The US Democrats with their New Green Deals and the like are not far behind. But according to every bespoke, woke, prettily outraged siren of the left liberal establishment, the overwhelming moral priority of every decent democrat is to stop Johnson and Trump doing what people voted for.

    Go figure.