Originally published June 24, 2016
Following the fall of the Berlin Wall and the demise of communism, Francis Fukuyama famously wrote an article in the National Interest entitled, “The End of History?” He postulated that the prediction of the German 19th Century philosopher, Hagel, had come to fruition: that liberal democracy had proven itself the ultimate victor in the contest of ideas and the form of government.
Brexit and Donald Trump are proving Dr. Fukayama distressingly wrong – or at least, premature.
The slight majority of voters in the United Kingdom have now voted to tear themselves from the European Union – leading to renewed calls for Scotland to secede to be followed out the door by Northern Ireland and even Gibraltar.
The British pound is down over 10%, to a 35 year low and the Dow is likely to open down 700 points in the morning.
The “Leave” folks in Britain have much in common with the Trumpistas: they have been the economic losers in globalization and the information economy, fear immigrants to want to isolate themselves from the big, scary world. They even have Trump-like xenophobic leaders showing the way in the personages of the self-described “radical,” Nigel Farage, and the truth-challenged, former Mayor of London, Boris Johnson. And here’s the even scarier link to the American election: the “Remain” vote had appeared to be eking out a narrow win in pre-vote and then in exit polling.
So was the polling off – or were voters just embarrassed to tell pollsters their deep down secret that they intended to cast their ballots to break with Europe? In the United States, in the face of negative polling Donald Trump has claimed that he will benefit from a “reverse Tom Bradley” effect – namely, that he polls worse than his actual standing.
The Brexit vote is a warning to Americans, and particularly diehard fans of Bernie Sanders: if supporters of liberal democracy don’t get out and vote this November, we could wake up on November 9th in the same position as the British are this morning: dazed, confused and seeing the end of their way of life.
Our Republic survived Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and two Bushes, and it would have survived John McCain and Mitt Romney. It won’t survive Donald Trump. He does not understand democracy, has no appreciation of the Constitution and has authoritarian impulses that are on display for all to see. We are potentially watching the crumbling of a Weimar America, with democrats (and Democrats) squabbling among themselves while the fascist are on the rise.
It can’t happen here? Well, look what just happened in the United Kingdom.
Hillary Clinton is not the most natural politician, as she has acknowledged. And she is surrounded by fake scandals and untrue allegations which take longer to debunk than for Fox News to repeat. But she is a very smart, capable and genuinely caring person who is well-suited to guide our country and lead the free world in a positive direction.
Americans face a binary choice this election (it’s either Hillary and incremental progress or Donald and precipitous decline, strife and dislocation), and we dare not follow the British example and reverse history.