You’re going to be reading a lot of stories about the Brexit vote being a warning that Donald Trump can win. Those stories will be wrong.
apparently has won, and the primary reason is the economic turmoil wrought by the greed and at times open cruelty of British austerity, as imposed by David Cameron and George Osborne. Labour didn’t run against austerity in the last British election, and was punished for it. The British people were punished with more austerity. A brutal economy always feeds extremism, and that is how Britain got Brexit. The irony was that Cameron and Osborne had to fight desperately against the consequences of their own policies. And if you think I’m ignoring Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, that’s because he was almost invisible during the Remain campaign, and his support was tepid if not feigned. Britain has austerity and no credible national leaders. Hence Brexit.
While much of Europe was electing right wing governments that imposed austerity, the United States was electing Barack Obama. The Obama stimulus was a starkly different approach from European austerity. A larger stimulus would have done more to fuel a robust recovery, but the stimulus that was enacted stopped the economic free fall, and got the United States back on the right track. More needs to be done, and will be done, but the difference with Europe and particularly Britain is obvious. The extremism fueling the Trump campaign is neither as broad or deep as the extremism fueling Brexit. Because President Obama and Congressional Democrats ensured that the United States did not end up with the sort of brutal economic program the Republicans would have imposed, and that Cameron and Osborne in Britain did impose.
Simply put, the extremism fueling Brexit does not have the same resonance in the United States. Because our economy is not suffering the way Britain’s economy is suffering. And the economic agenda of Hillary Clinton is very deliberately designed to build on the success of the Obama economic agenda. The United States has alternatives that Britain did not have. And the United States will not follow Britain’s path into extremism because it hasn’t been on a parallel economic path.