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Thursday, June 13, 2024

How the Democrats Alienate Their Base | Newsweek Opinion

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After six weeks of touring America, I’m back in England under quarantine. As I reflect on the Biden administration ahead of Joe Biden’s visit to the U.K. next week, I see the most extraordinary parallels between his party and the Labour Party in Britain.

In the run-up to the 2017 general election, the Labour leader was Jeremy Corbyn, a Marxist activist. Corbyn acquired almost cult-like status, particularly among students. Certain parts of the media fell for him as well. He came closer than anybody thought to gaining power. Yet today in England, which accounts for 87 percent of the U.K. population, the Labour Party is unconscious on the floor. It has been destroyed electorally and there is almost no prospect of it governing for years. A similar fate may well await the Democrats in America.

Reducing carbon emissions to stop catastrophic climate change is the new religion of the Left in the Western world. Countries like Germany, which hold elections under a proportional representation system, have seen a large rise in the green vote at the expense of socialist parties. What these parties rarely acknowledge, however, is that reducing carbon emissions costs jobs in the old manufacturing sectors such as steel and chemical production. This extends to all of the extractive industries.

This week, on the very day that the Biden administration announced an end to oil exploration in Alaska, we learned that the Chinese are burning record amounts of coal and building up to 100 new coal-fired power stations every year. Politicians in America and Europe can indulge in green politics to their hearts’ content, but there will be no decrease in carbon emissions globally. All that happens is that emissions are exported elsewhere.

Furthermore, the consequences of governments appeasing the green lobby are felt by everyday people. Well-paid blue-collar jobs are lost, wrecking lives and dissolving communities. The increased cost of filling up one’s car means that those who live in industrial or post-industrial cities are being hammered. Going green is all well and good if you can afford it, but it is financially painful for most.

This may explain in part why people living in the old industrial powerhouses in the U.K., including large areas of the north of England, now vote for the Conservative Party in significant numbers, something that was unthinkable a generation ago. Rising gas prices in the U.S. could have a similar impact on Biden’s Democrats.

Green politics isn’t the only turn-off for voters, of course. Immigration and border controls are at the front of many voters’ minds. Yet these subjects have been taboo in Left-wing circles in America and Britain for the last 20 years, and Biden’s administration is determined to maintain this ideology. His party held the opposite position not that long ago. In Bill Clinton’s State of the Union address in 1995, the president spoke repeatedly of “illegal aliens” and “criminal aliens.” Today, Clinton would probably be cancelled if he dared to utter these words—even in the privacy of his own home. Diversity of thought is no longer welcome in his party.

The capital cities may view all of us as “global citizens” but the patriotic working classes do not buy into it. The Democratic Party’s insistence on closing down debate and branding anyone who tries to discuss immigration as “racist” has begun to alienate millions of voters. Immigration was the issue that got Brexit over the line in 2016. It is also the issue which, more than any other, destroyed the Labour Party in Britain after its former leader, Tony Blair, oversaw the biggest-ever influx of immigrants to Britain. (The current British prime minister, Boris Johnson, seems pretty unconcerned about it as well). Voters were not consulted about this fundamental change in society, and the result was resentment.

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris
US President Joe Biden, with Vice President Kamala Harris, pauses to listen to a reporter’s question after speaking on Covid-19 response and vaccination in the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, next to the White House, in Washington, DC on June 2, 2021.MANDEL NGAN / AFP/GETTY IMAGES

The same negativity can be felt in America. Its southern border emergency is turning every state into a border state, as large numbers of people who have arrived illegally arrive in communities all over the country. Worse still are the criminals being smuggled in to join drug gangs in a nation that suffered record numbers of opioid deaths last year. All of this particularly enrages people who have arrived in the U.S. legally. Yet Vice President Kamala Harris has not once visited the border, as far as anybody knows. This is surprising considering she is supposedly in charge of the administration’s response to this issue.

Harris appears to believe that the emergency will recede on its own. She may even think that it doesn’t matter. But to millions of Democratic voters, it really does.

The old Left on both sides of the pond used to be fiercely patriotic. Now, a new Left-wing orthodoxy, heavily influenced by Marxist doctrine, has taken over. As cancel culture takes hold, statues are torn down and history is rewritten. George Orwell himself might have struggled to incorporate some of what has happened in recent years into his books.

Old Labour voters have rejected the new Left because they are proud of the role their families played in winning two world wars. There is every indication that the same feelings exist in America.

Economics used to be the key determinant of the Left-Right divide, but no longer. The new politics is about populism versus globalism, about patriotism versus “global citizenship.” Every piece of American polling that I have seen suggests that up to half of Democratic voters dislike the new leftward shift.

In order to take advantage, Republicans need to be more united and less depressed about the current circumstances. They also need to return to campaigning. If they keep this in mind, a dramatic victory in the midterm elections awaits.

Joe Biden’s Democrats are in more trouble than the commentariat realizes. Commentators and political analysts misread the runes in Britain over Brexit in 2016—and my money says the same will happen in America next year. Populism has much further to run.

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