Pop­ulism gives rise to U.S., U.K. im­passes

Santa Fe New Mexican - - NATION & WORLD - By Ellen Barry and Mark Lan­dler

LON­DON — In Par­lia­ment, law­mak­ers are mired in grid­lock over Bri­tain’s de­par­ture from the Euro­pean Union. In Wash­ing­ton, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump stormed out of a meet­ing with con­gres­sional leaders who op­pose his bor­der wall, hard­en­ing a stand­off that has shut down much of the gov­ern­ment.

Two gov­ern­ments par­a­lyzed. Two pop­ulist projects stalled. Two ven­er­a­ble democ­ra­cies in cri­sis.

Rarely have British and U.S. pol­i­tics seemed quite so syn­chro­nized as they do in the chilly dawn of 2019, three years af­ter the vic­to­ries of Brexit and Trump up­ended the two na­tions’ po­lit­i­cal es­tab­lish­ments. The coun­tries seem sub­ject to a sin­gle ide­o­log­i­cal weather sys­tem — one that pits pro-glob­al­iza­tion elites against a left-be­hind hin­ter­land.

The sim­i­lar­i­ties abound: Brex­i­teers love to com­pare their cause to the United States’ war for in­de­pen­dence. At a re­cent right-wing rally, one man marched with a scale model of the Lib­erty Bell. Trump has backed Brexit, while his friend, the Brexit god­fa­ther Nigel Farage, ap­pears on Fox News, in­vok­ing Europe’s mi­grant cri­sis as a rea­son to back Trump’s wall.

“It’s stun­ning how par­al­lel this is,” said Steve Ban­non, who was an ar­chi­tect of Trump’s im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy as his for­mer chief strate­gist and is an ally of Farage. “If you’re go­ing to chal­lenge the sys­tem, the sys­tem is go­ing to fight back.”

Trump and the Brex­i­teers have rid­den a na­tion­al­ist tide in their coun­tries as well, us­ing a po­tent anti-im­mi­gra­tion mes­sage to ap­peal to mostly white vot­ers who yearn for a sim­pler, more ho­mo­ge­neous so­ci­ety that no longer ex­ists.

In Bri­tain, im­mi­gra­tion has pro­vided an elec­tric current to con­ser­va­tive pol­i­tics since at least 1968, when law­maker Enoch Powell de­liv­ered a speech call­ing for im­mi­grants to be repa­tri­ated. Op­po­si­tion to im­mi­gra­tion spiked dur­ing the past two decades as Bri­tain was hit with ter­ror­ist at­tacks by Is­lamist mil­i­tants and watched as mi­grants from Syria, Libya and other war-torn coun­tries flooded across Europe.

In the United States, im­mi­gra­tion surged as an is­sue be­cause of the changes wrought by glob­al­iza­tion. Man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs moved over­seas, where la­bor was cheaper, while im­mi­grants took both un­skilled and high-tech jobs pre­vi­ously held by Amer­i­cans.

Local politi­cians in Cal­i­for­nia and else­where shot to star­dom by in­tro­duc­ing anti-im­mi­grant or­di­nances.

The tea party move­ment emerged, with core is­sues sim­i­lar to those of Farage’s pro-Brexit UK In­de­pen­dence Party.

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