Is Trump a president with precedents? Would you rather Brexit, or Mr. Brexit?

by Eric on January 16, 2017

Those of you fortunate enough to be able to pick up BBC Radio 4 on your wireless sets may wish to tune in after your lunches this week of the Trump inauguration, at 13:45 for fifteen minutes each weekday,1 to hear Trump: The Presidential Precedents, a programme hosted by UCL historian and 2015 Broadcaster of the Year Adam Smith, and devoted to US presidents who came into office promising to upend one apple-cart or another. (Presumably if you cannot tune into Radio 4 the old-fashioned way, you’ll be able to get the episodes on the Internet via streaming audio.)

At the American Historical Association annual meeting this year, I ended a pleasant conversation with a UK-resident friend of mine, who said in parting he’d be happy enough to trade Brexit for Trump. I hadn’t time to inquire after his logic, so I leave it to you to decide whether you would do likewise.

1This is just before “The Archers,” so if you want your sense of relentless continuity restored, just hang around for another fifteen minutes.

{ 63 comments }

1

Tabasco 01.16.17 at 1:42 am

Trump is for four or eight years. It will be intensely bad for a relatively short period of time (assuming Trump’s successor is reversion to the mean).

Brexit is forever. It will be fairly bad until the sun grows to be a red giant and engulfs the earth.

I think Brexit is preferable. It will be possible to adapt to Brexit, albeit at some cost.

2

J-D 01.16.17 at 1:49 am

… US presidents who came into office promising to upend one apple-cart or another.

Hm. Which ones were lying?

3

christian_h 01.16.17 at 2:30 am

Trump is reversible unless he manages to suspend the ordinary democratic process in the US. Brexit, once it is legally set in motion (probably by March), is not. So I understand your friend’s choice. In the end such a choice (“and remember, death is not an option”) of course depends on your beliefs about what four or eight years of Trump will achieve – this could be anything from virtually nothing (a la SNL’s take on the press conference where Baldwin – as – Trump suggests the ACA as a replacement for Obamacare) to catastrophically much (a shooting war with China).

4

P O'Neill 01.16.17 at 3:39 am

I think your friend’s sound logic is that Brexit is more irreversible than Trump. It’s going to be a crazy week so some continuity will be helpful.

5

ZoroastrianKurd 01.16.17 at 4:46 am

We have insanity of Hillary, Kerry, McCain supporting Al-qaeda in Syria vs religious minorities like Christians and Druze. Reflect a little on that. TRUMP is bringing back sanity.

6

ZM 01.16.17 at 5:18 am

Sort of related – I was happy to read today that Trump was considering lifting sanctions on Russia in return for a deal on reducing nuclear weapons.

From Australia we don’t have Trunp as President or Brexit , but former Prime Minister Keating has been saying the incoming Trump administration’s words on China are worrying and Keating is concerned conflict could be sparked in the Asia-Pacific region over USA and China disagreements over the rights to the South China Sea.

7

Tabasco 01.16.17 at 5:55 am

Trump is reversible unless he manages to suspend the ordinary democratic process in the US.

He’s already done that. What was the election campaign, if not a suspension of the ordinary democratic process? And he managed to it as a real estate developer from New York. With the power of the presidency, a compliant Congress, yes-men advisers and no sense of self-restraint the only thing stopping him doing whatever he wants is the Supreme Court.

8

Neil Levy 01.16.17 at 6:47 am

All caps is indeed the very mark of sanity.

9

ZM 01.16.17 at 8:38 am

I thought this was moving and interesting look at Obama’s Presidency from former Australian Anbassador to Cambodia and Poland, Tony Kevin, both praising and making some criticism’s of the Obama years, and hoping Obama won’t take part in delegitimising the Trump Presidency, which Kevin hopes could make relations between America and Russia better than under Obama –

“For eight years I have delighted in Barack Obama’s words – even richer and more inspiring to see and hear in his ringing tones , than to read in cold print. . Those days are, sadly, about to depart. The Chicago valedictory address was his last, magnificent, gift to us.

What will be left? Paul McGeough ( or his Fairfax headline editor) last week crushingly rebutted Obama’s proud ‘Yes, we did’ with ‘No, you did not’. A harsh judgement in my view.

Obama is doomed to be a giant succeeded by pigmies. Some of us would feel the same sense of emotional and moral letdown this week had Hillary won. His vision,courage, wisdom , grace, good humour, gentle humanist values, his delightful and throughly decent family – we will not see their like again.

….

On foreign and national security policy, I judge Obama more harshly. He accepted too unquestioningly the accepted tenets of American exceptionalism and indispensability in world affairs. He really believed that American hegemonic power necessarily underpinned a rules-based world order….

And he did not see how profoundly unacceptable this was to proud national leaders elsewhere. With his multicultural family background and his unusual experience of growing up in Indonesia and Hawaii, he should have known better. But he allowed himself during his political years in Chicago to become so Americo-centric that his foreign policy judgement suffered. It is easy to do this, living in America: it is such a self-sufficient, self-absorbed culture.

As President, he allowed anti-Russian ideologues in Washington and Europe far too much latitude to foment civil disorder and anti-Russian regime change efforts in Eastern Europe. The present dangerous decline in East-West relations is down almost entirely to those provocative policies over the past eight years: not to alleged aggression by Putin which was largely reactive to them. Obama passively allowed a false, demonised image of Putin’s Russia to take hold in Washington and NATO – and even came to believe in it himself .

….

He managed the Asia pivot mostly responsibly, he kept relations with China stable, and he had a real and important foreign policy success with Iran.. Let us hope Trump does not dismantle these achievements.

And let us hope Obama stands aloof now from the present ruthless Washington and New York game to seek to discredit and ridicule the Trump Presidency. America has made a national choice, under its own hugely flawed electoral system.. Now Americans must deal with the consequences of that choice. Maybe in the area of East-West relations, the results will be better under Trump than they would have been under Hillary? We shall see.

Obama leaves an enduring legacy not so much in his executive actions in government, much of which Trump seems determined to try to undo, as in his inspiring social justice messages which can never be undone, re-dellivered in Chicago a few days ago: that America can only prosper as a democracy if all its communities offer to one another mutual respect and dignity; that no community can be disdained or overlooked; that Americans have to learn better to empathise with other Americans who are not like them. This was a message as much for Democratic Party cultural elitists as for Republican covert racists. There is a huge social healingo job to be done in America in coming years, and Obama’s words will be a promise and an inspiration to be remembered and treasured.”

http://johnmenadue.com/blog/

10

MANOEL GALDINO 01.16.17 at 11:39 am

I understand people saying Brexit is forever. But being in the European Union was supposed to be forever as well. Is it impossible to imagine that 8 years from now UK going back to EU?

11

Adam Roberts 01.16.17 at 11:50 am

My main worry with Trump was that he would be an actual fascist, alla maniera di Mussolini. But the first thing a proper fascist would do is: borrow trillions to fund ‘Trump Health’, free care for all true and patriotic Americans, and so bind his base to him long-term in loyalty at his generosity to them as a tribune of the people. You know: like actual fascist dictators tend to do. Instead Trump is going to extirpate Obamacare double-quick time and leave large numbers of his own base without health coverage. That can only hurt him. Ryan et all don’t care about that, since destroying the ACA is more important to them than Trump’s individual popularity; but after a while it will dawn on all but the most dedicated Trump fans that he’s not draining the swamp, or locking up crooked Hillary, or making Mexico pay for the wall, or magically bringing coal-mining back to West Virginia … that in fact he is just another Republican president, filling his team with Goldman Sachs appointees, cutting taxes for the super-rich and so on. He already has historically low approval ratings and he hasn’t even started yet. A mid-term collapse will surely lead to impeachment.

Brexit, on the other hand, is a disaster that keeps getting more disastrous.

12

Collin Street 01.16.17 at 12:13 pm

Brexit, on the other hand, is a disaster that keeps getting more disastrous.

The whole point of brexit from the tory perspective is to protect the british money-laundering industry from pesky EU bureaucrats trying to regulate it into oblivion. From that perspective, the more disastrous the operation is the more it’ll distract.

Thus:
https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/jan/15/philip-hammond-suggests-uk-outside-single-market-could-become-tax-haven

13

Lee A. Arnold 01.16.17 at 12:29 pm

What is the current level of British trust in the Brexiters and May?

In the U.S., Trump’s approval ratings are down near 36%, even before he takes office. This would be explained by the fact that nobody but his voters like him, yet: He got 62.9 million votes, which is 46.1% of votes cast, but only 31% of registered voters (including those who didn’t vote). And 36 is close to 31. This is very odd, because usually after US Presidential elections there is a “rally ’round the flag” effect (even after close elections) and Presidents-elect poll closer to 65% approval.

This all matters, because what happens next is a matter of trust, as even the economists are coming to understand (though most of them quite dimly).

14

Pavel 01.16.17 at 2:29 pm

Even if the majority of Trump’s political decisions are reversible, his Supreme Court picks will reverberate for at least a few decades. Economic alliances can be reforged significantly easier than undoing the social rollback the US will see in the coming few years.

@Adam Roberts
“but after a while it will dawn on all but the most dedicated Trump fans that…”

I would use this election as a yardstick for just how utterly partisan and myopic many American voters are. It was “plainly obvious” to many that Trump was going to be a disaster even for his own base. That didn’t stop them from voting for him anyway.

15

SusanC 01.16.17 at 2:31 pm

My current expectation is that Brexit will be more disastrous than Trump (and a longer term problem), but I am prepared to be unpleasantly surprised by Trump.

(I am left wondering — not entirely seriously — if Putin and his FSB agents are acting in the spirit of 4Chan, thinking “do it for the “lulz” as they contribute to the Trump train-wreck).

16

Lenoxus 01.16.17 at 2:58 pm

But the first thing a proper fascist would do is: borrow trillions to fund ‘Trump Health’, free care for all true and patriotic Americans, and so bind his base to him long-term in loyalty at his generosity to them as a tribune of the people… Instead Trump is going to extirpate Obamacare double-quick time and leave large numbers of his own base without health coverage.

Your modus tollens is my modus ponens (or maybe the other way around). I think Trump’s carny-barker tendencies and need for validation very well could win over Republican ideology, and over the next few months congresspeople will get angry phone calls from Tea Party constituents asking why they haven’t yet approved Trump Health — do they hate America so much that they would prevent Trump’s glorious plan to extend Medicare to all Americans?

If this happens, and 2020 arrives with Trump getting away with the argument that he fixed healthcare where Obama was useless, I don’t know the right term for the mixed emotions I and other Democrats will experience.

17

MPAVictoria 01.16.17 at 3:18 pm

“Trump is reversible”

Well… Unless he manages to start a nuclear exchange or permanently wreck democratic governance (such that it is) in the global superpower.

Brexit is, at the end of a the day, just a trade agreement.

18

JohnT 01.16.17 at 3:52 pm

As with SusanC I think that (especially from a UK perspective) Brexit is much worse, and longer term (it’ll take 5-10 year to negotiate a re-entry). It also destabilises the European order which despite its economic downsides has helped keep the peace. However Trump has more room for nasty surprises. Nuclear downside in particular.

As to the US Supreme Court, given that the Republicans will only be able to make it heavily right-wing by, in essence, cheating (stalling out Obama’s nomination of Garland), why would the next Democratic administration be constrained from another legal-but-against-the-spirit-of-the-rules move such as increasing the size of the Supreme Court adding 2 additional, liberal, justices? I think 4 years of Trump will go a long way to exterminating any remaining lack of cynicism on the left.

19

bob mcmanus 01.16.17 at 6:54 pm

18: why would the next Democratic administration be constrained from another legal-but-against-the-spirit-of-the-rules move such as increasing the size of the Supreme Court adding 2 additional, liberal, justices?

Constrained by needing something like 60-65 radical Senators, and possibly 250-300 House members (House involved?*). The demographic geographic differences (advantages to small and Repub states) make strategies asymmetric. So winning Congress should be #2 on Democratic Agenda, after winning a lot more statehouses. #4 can be the Presidency.

*Looking up FDR’s 1937 attempt, yes House has a say

20

sigaba 01.16.17 at 7:08 pm

“Trump is reversible”

Well… Unless he manages to start a nuclear exchange or permanently wreck democratic governance (such that it is) in the global superpower.

You’re aiming way too high, the dissolution of NATO is a long-term process but once it starts it’s difficult to reverse it, particularly when everyone can see the US is a political basket-case. Too soon to say that? I don’t think so.

These things have a dynamic quality and once people accept the foundations everything else moves with it. Jackson was only president for 8 years but after he left office, was it conceivable to anyone that the US was ever going to make meaningful treaties with Native Americans again? Was it conceivable to natives that the US would ever act in good faith? Or that any Native American claims to land or property would ever be taken seriously? This was a contentious issue and he settled it: before him, Indian wars were an occasional tragedy, after him they were policy.

Is it conceivable, after even a week of Trump, that anybody will ever talk seriously about Collective Security again? Trump has proved Americans don’t care if Russia owns Europe, or if they do care, they’ll only do something about it after it’s too late.

21

alfredlordbleep 01.16.17 at 7:19 pm

1
ZM 01.16.17 at 5:18 am
Sort of related – I was happy to read today that Trump was considering lifting sanctions on Russia in return for a deal on reducing nuclear weapons.

First look to the previous arms deal of Bush-Cheney with its voluntary compliance (no inspections, trust-don’t-verify). Just shows right-wing contempt for arms limitation etc.

2
JohnT 01.16.17 at 3:52 pm

. . . why would the next Democratic administration be constrained from another legal-but-against-the-spirit-of-the-rules move such as increasing the size of the Supreme Court adding 2 additional, liberal, justices?

Just such a proposal was made by judge, contrarian libertarian Richard Posner in TNR about 2010 (if memory serves).

[emphasis added]

22

Dr. Hilarius 01.16.17 at 7:25 pm

Many of Trump’s expected policies will be irreversible in effect no matter who comes along as the next president. The House has already taken steps to give away federal lands to the states without any requirement for economic return. Public lands will end up in private hands forever. Oil and gas developments will be allowed in national monuments and parks. The Endangered Species Act is at risk of being gutted. Antibiotic resistance isn’t likely to get any attention from a Trump FDA. Diseases like Ebola will be dismissed as problems for foreigners and best solved by border restrictions. And there’s that little issue of climate change. Talk about whistling past the graveyard.

23

Scott Greer 01.16.17 at 9:36 pm

The list of comparison presidents may have been way too nice. Trump makes a big noise about change but in practice he is acting like a particularly, um, vigorous Republican on almost every issue. The precedents for Trump, Skowronek might say, are Adams, Buchanan, Hoover and Carter: new blood brought in despite weak party connections in an effort to shore up a strong but decaying political coalition. In that case (a) the country’s in for the kind of experience that makes the Carter years look good, but we knew that (b) Trump could essentially preside over the final crack-up of the Reagan coalition. Skowronek (who has a remarkable record of being right despite a low-tech theory) on Trump:

https://www.thenation.com/article/what-time-is-it-heres-what-the-2016-election-tells-us-about-obama-trump-and-what-comes-next/

24

Dipper 01.16.17 at 9:40 pm

Collin Street @ 12

That is not my reading of Philip Hammond’s statement. We are in a negotiating phase and Hammond is making it clear that if the EU doesn’t give us a deal we will make life hard for the EU.

The Dutch want to stop the UK becoming a tax haven so that the Dutch Antilles can continue to be a tax haven, not because they don’t believe in tax havens.

My guess is that Brexit negotiations will be a slide toward a hard Brexit right up until the point when they agree a surprisingly less hard Brexit.

25

hix 01.16.17 at 9:52 pm

Im not sure how much potential Brexit bad can be blamed on the actual Brexit. Brexit seems like a good excuse to do ugly libertarian stuff they could have done while maintining EU membership aswell right now. Its unclear if they would have found another excuse (or indead if Brexit is a sufficient excuse to actually go through with it). See recent threats to the EU that sounded more like threats to British locals than the EU.

26

Dipper 01.16.17 at 9:55 pm

Lee Arnold @ 12.

So far little has changed from before the referendum. The polls still show a slight majority for Leave on a straight choice. Retainers continue to interpret polls in a way they claim gives a new majority to Remain, but there are to the best of my knowledge no polls that, given a straight choice, deliver a Remain verdict.

Although the consensus on this thread is that Brexit is a looming disaster, that may be because the nature of the readership of this blog is slanted toward a sector of society that believes it has much to lose from Brexit (i.e. University lecturers, consultants for large Quangos). That group tends to interpret the Referendum question as one purely of economic benefit. The polls by Lord Ashcroft indicate that for most people the issue was democracy and governance. That group is still behind Brexit.

It is clearly the case that leaving the EU carries more risk than staying. Making your own decisions carries the risk that you may make bad ones. Most Brexiters when interviewed understand – even welcome – that aspect of Brexit.

Here is a snippet of the kind of paranoia that currently circulates around Brexit in academia. Many academics like to get leading experts in their field to come and do vivas for their PhD students. It gives them a chance to catch up in a social setting with a small amount of work. However the stipulation is that they cannot be paid if they do not have a right to work in the UK, and the fear is that will mean European academics will no longer be able to be invited to vivas, and this in a small way is a nudge towards isolation. As a Leaver, my inclination is that rule is an EU rule. On leaving the EU we will be able to get a rule that says anyone from overseas – not just the EU – will be able to come and be paid for a small amount of ad hoc work such as vivas, presentations, or other talks. Universities have an opportunity to get a better arrangement with a wider part of the world academic community. They should get organised and start to use the opportunities instead of sitting in their common rooms moaning.

27

kidneystones 01.16.17 at 11:01 pm

@ 16 “I think Trump’s carny-barker tendencies and need for validation very well could win over Republican ideology, and over the next few months congresspeople will get angry phone calls from Tea Party constituents asking why they haven’t yet approved Trump Health — do they hate America so much that they would prevent Trump’s glorious plan to extend Medicare to all Americans?”

Agreed. Can he pull it off with entrenched global interests funneling cash to corrupt politicians on both sides of the aisle whilst the media shriek endlessly over the Republican ‘civil war’ and ‘never before?’ On the evidence, I say yes.

@19 Hi Bob. Far and away the most concise analysis of the problem and possible solution. Trump will be busy getting shit done for the first two years, if he survives them.

But leading up to 2018 Dems better be much better prepared for an all-out assault on the ‘Dem’ coalition than they were just months ago. For young people who voted the economy was far and away the most important concern. Women want equal pay for equal work and better daycare. Trump won white women with all the scalding press over ‘pussy-gate.’ He managed to peel off small, but (ahem) enormously significant sections of the minority vote in key constituencies.

Priebus gets it – the promise of jobs and economic security via employment and skills looks a lot better than a government check to just about everyone. Look for federal ‘work-fare’ on steriods, probably with some variation of vouchers for privately purchased health-care in the reformed ACA.

The Democratic bench is extremely weak and will be facing a Republican president who is willing to attack John Lewis for being lazy. Brighter Republicans (there are some, I’m sure, although cunning might be more apt) will form coalitions to advance their own causes and secure their own bases – probably at the expense of Democrats.

Elections have consequences. The Dems and the Republican establishment just lost big.

Gonna be a little hell to pay.

As for Brexit, let me know when it happens.

28

christian_h 01.16.17 at 11:14 pm

I thought we were talking about what makes Trump, and Brexit, special. Of course an administration and congress can do things that are difficult to reverse, like install SC justices or open federal lands to exploitation. But those are things any republican president would do.

29

Chris S 01.16.17 at 11:34 pm

“The polls by Lord Ashcroft indicate that for most people the issue was democracy and governance.”

Actually the main reason (49%) that people chose (from a selection of alternatives) was “the principle that decisions about the UK should be taken in the UK”, which narrowly interpreted says not a fig about democracy and very little about governance.

30

Suzanne 01.17.17 at 12:32 am

@9:
“Washington and New York game”? Nobody needs to plot; Trump is doing all he can to discredit himself and invite ridicule. His approval ratings are so low that if he were in office his presidency would be in crisis mode.

Reports indicate that Obama fancies himself as a venture capitalist in his new life, in which world we may presume he will retain his giant-among-pygmy status, but he has indicated a willingness to fight for his signature legislation, insofar as he can. We shall, as you say, see.

“Now Americans must deal with the consequences of that choice.”

No kidding.

Regarding the OP, I would say offhand Brexit is worse than Trump, because as noted once Brexit is done it’s done, but it may just be possible for the Democrats to come in and clean up after a GOP mess yet again. However, it’s early days, and already Trump is defying norms in ways that would have been inconceivable a very short time ago. True, his unpopularity is already at crisis levels, but with the GOP in solid control it’s not clear how much that is going to matter, at least for the next two years.

31

J-D 01.17.17 at 1:44 am

Trump makes a big noise about change but in practice he is acting like a particularly, um, vigorous Republican on almost every issue.
There is little excuse for anybody to be surprised if a Republican President turns out to act like a Republican President.

32

harry b 01.17.17 at 2:42 am

I really don’t think that most people who are in favor of remaining see it as primarily an economic issue. Do you have polling data suggesting that? I do think it is highly likely to be economically costly to the country and, of course, expect that as usual those economic costs will be borne disproportionately by the working class and the poor. But for most that is not the core. But for most remainers I have talked to (and for me — and it won’t cost me a penny) that is a secondary issue at best.

33

Pavel 01.17.17 at 4:19 am

@Dipper

If by “democracy and governance” you meant “xenophobia and nationalism”… sure, I’ll accept your interpretation that economics was not the only factor at play here. As an aside, I work for a tech company in Canada, so Brexit has no direct impact on me aside from the horror of watching a large number of mislead people blaming immigration for the majority of their ills.

34

J-D 01.17.17 at 5:42 am

kidneystones

Priebus gets it – the promise of jobs and economic security via employment and skills looks a lot better than a government check to just about everyone.

‘Promise’ is the critical term there. ‘Jobs and economic security via employment and skills’ is one thing; a ‘promise of jobs and economic security via employment and skills’ is not the same thing. Whether promises continue to look better to lots of people when Trump’s Administration fails to cash the cheques that his mouth will continue to write–that’s something that remains to be seen, as the cat said when it voided in the sugar bowl.

35

J-D 01.17.17 at 6:34 am

Paying little more than casual attention, from the other side of the world, to the UK referendum, I got the feeling that the predictions by supporters of ‘Leave’ about how good it would be for the UK to Leave were probably, at best, wildly overstated; and that the predictions by supporters of ‘Remain’ about how bad it would be for the UK to Leave were probably, at best, wildly overstated. But I don’t have much solid to back that up.

Now it’s occurred to me that there is a useful test of this. When the UK originally joined the EEC (as it then was), and again when there was the referendum on membership in 1975, there must have been predictions from the two sides about how good and about how bad it would be for the UK to be a member of the EEC. How difficult would it be to figure out how well those predictions have stood the test of time, four or five decades later?

36

Dipper 01.17.17 at 8:54 am

@ Pavel @ 33

If by “democracy and governance” you meant “xenophobia and nationalism”

I didn’t mean that. “I work for a tech company in Canada” – that’s Canada that has free trade agreements with countries but doesn’t extend them to free movement of peoples and political union with those countries. Much as Leavers would like for the UK.

37

Dipper 01.17.17 at 8:59 am

@ harry b – I don’t have polling data.

If it wasn’t economics what was the reason for voting Remain?

38

Trout 01.17.17 at 11:11 am

Dipper @26

Whatever about the readership of this blog, the 48% who voted to remain were not primarily university lecturers and consultants for large quangos. Similarly, the voters of Northern Ireland and Scotland for whom all this stirring talk of taking back control is ringing rather hollow. Perhaps in our post truth society farmers in south Armagh now count as a metropolitan elite?

As for paranoia amongst university lecturers, several of my continental European colleagues have told me that they no longer think they have a long term future in the U.K., thanks in no small part to May’s nasty party schtick. Maybe they’re oversensitive, but it’s not paranoid to fear we will in time lose good colleagues and find it harder to draw in good people from Europe (and beyond).

Also, the idea that Brexit will liberate us from the tyranny of restricting ourselves to EU based external examiners is pure Liam Fox-style fantasy.

39

Pete 01.17.17 at 12:21 pm

@Dipper

> As a Leaver, my inclination is that rule is an EU rule. On leaving the EU we will be able to get a rule that says anyone from overseas – not just the EU – will be able to come and be paid for a small amount of ad hoc work such as vivas, presentations, or other talks.

Your inclination? You’d like to make up a belief about rules and then argue on that basis, rather than checking the facts?

No, it’s a Home Office policy, and the Home Office is dead keen on getting immigrant numbers down at any cost, including hostility to foreign researchers.

See http://ec.europa.eu/immigration/who-does-what/more-information/explaining-the-rules-why-are-there-eu-rules-and-national-rules_en which includes the statement “Ireland and the United Kingdom choose, on a case-by-case basis, whether or not to adopt EU rules on immigration, visa and asylum policies”.

In any case there is room for countries to be more generous with their immigration regimes; the UK’s long fight has been against freedom of movement.

40

Pete 01.17.17 at 12:25 pm

(As for Trump vs. Brexit .. well, US under Trump is potentially much less bad than UK under Trump would be, because by definition the PM has the confidence of the House and can make whatever legislation he wants, and the PM has the Royal Prerogative; while President Trump is theoretically limited by the other houses from implementing ideas that even they would find abhorrent.)

41

Salazar 01.17.17 at 4:39 pm

#9:

“On foreign and national security policy, I judge Obama more harshly. He accepted too unquestioningly the accepted tenets of American exceptionalism and indispensability in world affairs. He really believed that American hegemonic power necessarily underpinned a rules-based world order….”

An African-American Democrat, already subject to an extraordinary amount of suspicion and scrutiny, would never come have come close to the Oval Office unless he at least professed to unquestioningly accept American the tenets exceptionalism.

I strongly suspect Trump’s skeptical foreign policy tune during the campaign goes the furthest towards explaining the #NeverTrump crowd and the visceral hostility of the Washington Post and other establishment institutions. The right-wing populist tide allowed Trump to overcome that hurdle, but I still believe questioning American exceptionalism remains the one cardinal, unforgivable sin in Washington. Those who bet on the wrong horse this election cycle are waiting for payback.

42

Salazar 01.17.17 at 4:40 pm

Sorry: “…unless he at least professed to unquestioningly accept the tenets of American exceptionalism.”

43

bruce wilder 01.17.17 at 4:47 pm

England is the most densely populated major country in Europe and includes six or seven of the poorest cities in northwest Europe. This may be considered politically irrelevant.

44

Placeholder 01.17.17 at 4:58 pm

“If it wasn’t economics what was the reason for voting Remain?”

I don’t think Scotland, the Catholic parts of the 6 counties and the Welsh speaking parts of Wales vs. England and Ulster could really be called an economic split.

45

engels 01.17.17 at 6:36 pm

I really don’t think that most people who are in favor of remaining see it as primarily an economic issue. Do you have polling data suggesting that?

Yup
https://twitter.com/paul1kirby/status/821378219924406272

46

SusanC 01.17.17 at 9:43 pm

Here is a snippet of the kind of paranoia that currently circulates around Brexit in academia. Many academics like to get leading experts in their field to come and do vivas for their PhD students. It gives them a chance to catch up in a social setting with a small amount of work. However the stipulation is that they cannot be paid if they do not have a right to work in the UK, and the fear is that will mean European academics will no longer be able to be invited to vivas, and this in a small way is a nudge towards isolation.

I’m aware of some instances where we have already had considerable difficulty getting permission from the government for a non-EU academic to viva a PhD candidate — even though the amount of money that the examiner gets paid is trivially small. So I can see some cause for anxiety here.

The need to get qualified external examiners is rather more serious than you make it sound. Basically, if your student has done a PhD in some obscure topic, you typically[*] have to get them examined by someone who is a expert in whatever that topic is, and if its an obscure enough topic there might not be anyone suitable in the UK (or the EU).

[*] If you’re really desperate, it is not completely unheard of to get a philosophy department to supply an examiner for a PhD on a different subject about which they know nothing: the unfortunate examiner is basically being asked “is the dissertation a logically coherent approach to solving the problem”.

47

J-D 01.18.17 at 12:00 am

When the UK originally joined the EEC (as it then was), and again when there was the referendum on membership in 1975, there must have been predictions from the two sides about how good and about how bad it would be for the UK to be a member of the EEC. How difficult would it be to figure out how well those predictions have stood the test of time, four or five decades later?

An odd thing: I found online the official statements of the two sides (as circulated by the government) for the 1975 referendum, and both of them emphasise (with different evaluations, obviously) predictions about what would happen if the UK left (rather than predictions about what would happen if the UK remained), so they can’t be tested against what actually happened.

48

Sebastian H 01.18.17 at 5:57 am

“I do think it is highly likely to be economically costly to the country and, of course, expect that as usual those economic costs will be borne disproportionately by the working class and the poor.”

Is this really true of Brexit? As a general proposition that economic shocks tend to disproportionately hurt the poor I totally agree with you, but Brexit is an interesting case because a huge portion of the negative shocks are aimed squarely at the rich and very rich. The most likely areas of pain are the financial sector and those who are heavily invested in London real estate. The poor and working class have been firmly pushed out of much of London so they aren’t going to be hurt be cratering real estate prices (and in fact might be helped by them). Much as the gains were kept from them, it seems plausible that much of the hurt might be centered far from them. Of course rich people often find a way to put their pain on the poor, so who knows.

49

reason 01.18.17 at 2:39 pm

bruce wilder @43 http://crookedtimber.org/2017/01/16/is-trump-a-president-with-precedents-would-you-rather-brexit-or-mr-brexit/#comment-702331

Can the Netherlands really be called a minor country? It is bigger than any of the Scandinavian countries and bigger than Belgium, the Czech Republic, Portugal, Slovakia, Austria, Switzerland, Ireland etc, etc? “Major” seems like a minor distinction to me.

50

bruce wilder 01.18.17 at 4:25 pm

reason @ 49

I would consider Netherlands a major country. I intended only to exclude from the rankings tiny islands and enclaves, like Jersey or Monaco or Vatican City.

England surpassed the Netherlands in population density somewhere around 2009-11, although they are both still rising and now close to 413 per km2. That England’s population density now surpasses the Netherlands was actually surprising to me.

Population density for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is quite a bit lower than for England, since there’s a lot of empty Scotland, and Wales and Northern Ireland also have much lower population densities. Nominal population density for mountainous countries like Switzerland or Japan is not really a comparable indicator of how people live since so much space is taken up by, well, mountains. With appropriate adjustments, Switzerland might be considered more densely populated — I don’t know; I’m sure population density and immigration are politically irrelevant in Switzerland as they are in England.

51

Suzanne 01.19.17 at 5:19 pm

@27: “The Democratic bench is extremely weak and will be facing a Republican president who is willing to attack John Lewis for being lazy.”

He attacked Lewis for being “all talk and no action” and also insulted his constituents with his customary hostile racial stereotyping.

You and Orange Julius Caesar have a point, though. Sure, he got his skull fractured on Bloody Sunday, and it is likely that some of the animals who beat Lewis and his fellows that day are still alive to vote for Trump, but what has he done for us lately?

52

divelly 01.19.17 at 5:48 pm

Latest odds:
No reelection 1/2
Impeached or quits 1/1

53

J-D 01.19.17 at 11:29 pm

divelly

The chance of Trump being impeached is non-zero; and the chance of his quitting is also non-zero; but the odds you quote (is there a source, or are they of your own devising?) put the probability of one or the other happening at 50%. I can’t rate it anywhere near that high, so I’d consider it good value to take the other side of the bet at even odds.

54

kidneystones 01.20.17 at 4:02 am

@ 51 My point is that calling people racist is unlikely to have much impact with an electorate that just voted in a guy who behaves as Trump does. Indeed, a large part of why he was elected is because when Trump is insulted he replies in kind no matter who.

A media more respectful of Lewis’s reputation, not to mention the truth, might have pointed out to Lewis that he skipped the Bush ceremonies, too. But then, that wouldn’t reflect well on the aging icon’s memory, or do much to advance the ‘never before’ narrative.

Lewis earned his place in history. It would be nice if he allowed others theirs. No matter how much or how little Lewis does today and in the future can ever diminish his heroism, sacrifice, or example.

But if Lewis is rude, he’s rude; and if Lewis is wrong, he’s wrong.

55

Layman 01.20.17 at 12:33 pm

Sebastian H: “Of course rich people often find a way to put their pain on the poor, so who knows.”

Yes, the answer to this question is completely unknowable!

This one is perhaps less so: What sort of economy are you imagining, in which the finance industry is harmed, and real estate prices collapse, yet the the economic suffering is borne by the wealthy, and the rest are sheltered from it? Let us look back in time, and try to find examples of other crises in which the finance industry suffered big setbacks, and the real estate market collapsed. Are there any? No? Anyone? Buehler?

56

Lee A. Arnold 01.20.17 at 12:59 pm

EU may respond to May, as China may trump Trump: “We can do it without ya, baby.”

57

soru 01.20.17 at 5:57 pm

@53 Paddy Power has ‘impeached within first term as evens’, and ‘within 6 months’ as 4:1. They are not currently quoting odds on a second US civil war.

58

Sebastian H 01.20.17 at 7:16 pm

“This one is perhaps less so: What sort of economy are you imagining, in which the finance industry is harmed, and real estate prices collapse, yet the the economic suffering is borne by the wealthy, and the rest are sheltered from it?”

I’m not suggesting that the rest will be completely sheltered from it. I’m saying that you can’t assume that the ups and downs of GDP automatically represent the ups and downs of the rest.

If the rest are to do well, prices have to fall in London. If the rest are to do well, the finance industry has to be harmed.

Will the wealthy and well connected do their best to minimize the impact of that? Of course. But will ‘the rest’ do better under a regime where the keys of their destruction get severely damaged? Quite possibly. What is known is that the rest have been essentially abandoned for three decades. So they are willing to take the chance. I’m not willing to take that chance, but I understand why they might be.

It is a fundamental of good governance that you keep to a minimum the number of people who are dissatisfied enough to risk chucking it. That has been fundamentally and foolishly ignored through much of the West.

59

Layman 01.20.17 at 10:54 pm

A future of two competing economic blocs – US / UK / Russia, vs China / EU / everyone else?

60

Lee A. Arnold 01.21.17 at 11:12 am

The “China / EU / everyone else” bloc could be more successful, because they have greater tendencies towards socialization.

The near future is likely to see ever-more possible surpluses of goods and services (–which are now restricted to false scarcities, by the system of money + the psychological belief that people should be forced to work for a living–) and with ever-less real necessity to work in order to produce those things. All of this, with automatic innovations in quality and availability, ongoing.

In such circumstances, the idea of government as a universal public goods corporation will become more obvious. The EU’s social democracies and China’s faux-capitalist central party are readier to understand this.

Considering the fact that Chinese trade reps have been spotted in Mexico City in the last few years, we may conjecture that, if things go a certain way, Mexico itself may finally be paying for the wall: to keep the northern whites OUT.

Of course, it’s always darkest before the dawn, and all of that: In the U.S., it’s possible that Russia’s electoral rejection of neolib Hillary will result in an “acceleration of crises” now that Trump is in command — and so, the GOP’s got no one else to blame but themselves, for the next corruptions of practice and coarsenings of dialogue. E.g. their destruction of Obamacare could lead to a single-payer sooner than anyone realizes… And thus, a step in the direction of social democracy. The Dems, having had the Clintonians ejected despite a popular majority (via a creaky old 18th-century electoral mechanism) and with Bernie now in the catbird seat, are well-positioned to “capitalize” on this, if their Congressional cohort will only wake up. Get behind Bernie now!

61

J-D 01.21.17 at 11:29 am

kidneystones

But if Lewis is rude, he’s rude; and if Lewis is wrong, he’s wrong.

Oh, a deepity!
Can I play too?
If you are rude, you’re rude; and if you are wrong, you’re wrong.

62

J-D 01.21.17 at 11:31 am

soru

Paddy Power has ‘impeached within first term as evens’, and ‘within 6 months’ as 4:1.

Interesting, but I stand by my own estimate.

63

Takamaru Misako 01.21.17 at 2:15 pm

Bruce Wilder pontificates:
>England … Netherlands[population density]

England is not a member country of the EU, nor is it a n actual country per se. The country that England is (the most populous) part of is the United Kingdom. England is a nation, not a country.

And last time I looked, the UK was barely in the top 30 of population density worldwide. Even lower when one considered population density vs. arable land area (i.e. excluding mountains and bogs). Even just considering England, we have, at the time of the last census, 53,012,456 per 130,427 sq km i.e. 406.45/sq km, which is not actually greater than the population density of the Netherlands, at best it is “within experimental error” of it. On arable land, the population density of the UK is at rank 74, i.e there are 73 countries more densely populated when you exclude mountains etc.

I’ve been to many more densely populated countries, and indeed live in one. It irritates one significantly to see this BS figure, exaggerated by “excluding unimportant countries”, when England is not even a country (unitary political entity) in itself in the first place. (I lived in the UK, indeed in England, most of my adult life and the idea that it was too densely populated is ridiculous.)

As is blindingly obvious from the voting statistics, the calumny that the UK has “too great a proportion of immigrants” buttered no parsnips in those parts of the UK that actually had significant immigrant populations.

I really don’t understand why some people want to abuse dodgy statistics to make a fake point that has no explanatory power re the outcome of the referendum. Yes, the UK like many other countries is fairly densely populated, but No, the density per se has negative correlation with the results of the referendum, and besides which the density tends to be massively overstated … and even when massively overstated *STILL* is negatively correlated with the brexit vote.

(The other lesson I should draw, for myself, is that I really shouldn’t read these 4+ day-old topics after everyone’s finished with them.)

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