AGAINST THE GRAIN

Why Hillary Clinton Should Worry About Brexit

Anti-elite sentiment is erupting around the world. And it’s the main reason why Donald Trump remains competitive in the presidential election.

Supporters cheer for Donald Trump during a campaign rally in Greensboro, N.C., on June 14.
AP Photo/Chuck Burton
Josh Kraushaar
Add to Briefcase
Josh Kraushaar
June 26, 2016, 6 a.m.

The out­come of the pres­id­en­tial elec­tion will hinge on wheth­er dis­af­fected voters be­lieve it is a choice between two can­did­ates or—like Brexit—a ref­er­en­dum on the dir­ec­tion of the coun­try. Hil­lary Clin­ton holds ad­vant­ages over Trump in nearly every way can­did­ates are usu­ally meas­ured: She’s qual­i­fied for the job, she’s run­ning a bet­ter cam­paign, and she has the tem­pera­ment to be com­mand­er in chief. But if anxious voters want to take out their deep-seated dis­sat­is­fac­tion on a feck­less and feath­er-nest­ing es­tab­lish­ment—con­sequences be damned—Clin­ton should be run­ning scared.

If there’s a par­al­lel between the Brit­ish vote to with­draw from the European Uni­on and Don­ald Trump’s pres­id­en­tial cam­paign, it’s the dis­con­nect between the elite and the people they rep­res­ent. The vast ma­jor­ity of the Brit­ish polit­ic­al es­tab­lish­ment, main­stream me­dia in­sti­tu­tions, and transna­tion­al busi­ness class sneered at people who wanted to break from Brus­sels—an at­ti­tude dis­con­nec­ted from the sen­ti­ments of a ma­jor­ity of the pub­lic. Like­wise, Trump’s het­ero­dox views on im­mig­ra­tion, glob­al­ism, as­sim­il­a­tion, and trade are en­tirely at odds with the pro­fes­sion­al class in both parties, but they res­on­ate with an as­cend­ant pop­u­list con­stitu­ency that has taken hold in 2016.

The demo­graph­ic break­down of the Brexit vote was re­mark­ably sim­il­ar to the con­tours of the pres­id­en­tial race. Older voters over­whelm­ingly sup­por­ted with­draw­ing from the EU; they also make up Trump’s base of sup­port. The work­ing-class towns out­side of Lon­don were the strongest bas­tions of Brexit. Like­wise, Trump is still run­ning com­pet­it­ively against Clin­ton be­cause of over­whelm­ing back­ing from blue-col­lar whites. The no­tion of “two Amer­icas” (pop­ular­ized by John Ed­wards, of all people) has nev­er been more rel­ev­ant.

The voters’ de­sire to give the pro­ver­bi­al middle fin­ger to the gov­ern­ing class is why Trump—des­pite his gaffes, ig­nor­ance of policy, and er­rat­ic tem­pera­ment—can’t be coun­ted out. Fo­cus groups show that even many Trump sup­port­ers have con­cerns about his abil­ity to serve ef­fect­ively as pres­id­ent. But they don’t care. On pa­per, a can­did­ate run­ning on Trump’s is­sues who un­der­stood the im­port­ance of put­ting to­geth­er a pro­fes­sion­al polit­ic­al op­er­a­tion would be a po­tent can­did­ate. But Trump’s un­will­ing­ness to take the job of run­ning for pres­id­ent ser­i­ously re­mains a huge vul­ner­ab­il­ity. His de­cision in re­cent days to pro­mote his golf course in Scot­land in­stead of ham­mer­ing home his own na­tion­al­ist­ic cam­paign mes­sage was one of many polit­ic­al op­por­tun­it­ies he has missed since lock­ing down the Re­pub­lic­an nom­in­a­tion.

Make no mis­take: Polit­ic­ally speak­ing, Clin­ton is just about the worst pos­sible Demo­crat­ic nom­in­ee to run in these volat­ile, anti­es­tab­lish­ment times. She hob­nobs with the glob­al elite, main­tains close re­la­tion­ships with Wall Street honchos, has trouble con­nect­ing with work­ing-class voters, and car­ries an air of en­ti­tle­ment. Polls show that voters don’t trust her and don’t much like her. She’s of­fer­ing a status quo mes­sage to an elect­or­ate that thinks the coun­try is headed off the tracks.

Trump made an ef­fect­ive anti-elit­ist case against Clin­ton in a speech last week. He charged that in­siders like Clin­ton “wrote the rules of the game to keep them­selves in power and in the money.” It’s a sting­ing in­dict­ment that goes after her biggest weak­ness. His prob­lem is that he’s un­able to sus­tain the ar­gu­ment on his own without a tele­prompt­er.

TRAIL MIX:

1. The Flor­ida Sen­ate race has be­come a case study in Polit­ics 101: Can­did­ates still mat­ter, even if it’s harder for them to dis­tance them­selves from their party these days. Sen. Marco Ru­bio’s en­trance in the race alone sig­ni­fic­antly im­proved the GOP’s chances of hold­ing the battle­ground Sen­ate seat. But over­looked in much of the Ru­bio cov­er­age was the re­cord of his lead­ing chal­lenger—Demo­crat­ic Rep. Patrick Murphy. Need­less to say, he’s not one of the party’s strongest re­cruits this cycle.

Miami’s CBS af­fil­i­ate aired a dev­ast­at­ing two-part series on Murphy this week, por­tray­ing the 33-year-old can­did­ate as an empty suit without any qual­i­fic­a­tions to be a sen­at­or. It re­por­ted that he lied about work­ing as a cer­ti­fied pub­lic ac­count­ant and be­ing a small busi­ness own­er, while ex­ag­ger­at­ing oth­er parts of his résumé. It’s hard to ima­gine a more dam­aging in­vest­ig­at­ive re­port on a prom­in­ent statewide can­did­ate.

While it’s fash­ion­able to in­sist that con­gres­sion­al can­did­ates won’t be able win many cros­sov­er votes, there are plenty of ex­cep­tions to the rule—es­pe­cially in the Sen­ate. In 2010, GOP Sen­ate can­did­ates Ken Buck (Col­or­ado) and Shar­ron Angle (Nevada) were so weak that they wer­en’t able to take ad­vant­age of the fa­vor­able en­vir­on­ment for their party. In 2012, Demo­crats Claire Mc­Caskill and Joe Don­nelly were able to win Sen­ate races in Re­pub­lic­an-friendly states that Mitt Rom­ney car­ried against not-ready-for-prime-time op­pon­ents. If Ru­bio were fa­cing top-caliber com­pet­i­tion, this race would be a toss-up. But he holds a dis­tinct­ive ad­vant­age giv­en his com­pet­i­tion.

2. There’s a lot of talk that the polit­ics of gun con­trol fun­da­ment­ally changed after the Or­lando ter­ror­ist at­tack. Don’t bet on it. Here’s one sign: More Sen­ate Demo­crats up for reelec­tion in 2018 broke with their party on one of four gun-re­lated votes this week (Don­nelly of In­di­ana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Jon Test­er of Montana, and Joe Manchin of West Vir­gin­ia) than did Re­pub­lic­ans on the bal­lot this year (Mark Kirk of Illinois, Kelly Ayotte of New Hamp­shire, and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania). Many swing-state sen­at­ors in tough races, like Ohio’s Rob Port­man and Ari­zona’s John Mc­Cain, held the line against in­creased reg­u­la­tions on fire­arms.

It’s pos­sible these Re­pub­lic­ans are mak­ing a polit­ic­al mis­cal­cu­la­tion by sid­ing with the Na­tion­al Rifle As­so­ci­ation. But when vul­ner­able Demo­crats are also agree­ing with the gun lobby, it shows that gun con­trol isn’t quite the slam-dunk polit­ic­al is­sue Demo­crats want it to be.

3. The Pew Re­search Cen­ter un­covered a sober­ing stat­ist­ic about the state of our polit­ic­al po­lar­iz­a­tion: Only 8 per­cent of Demo­crats and 9 per­cent of Re­pub­lic­ans are mar­ried to a spouse of a dif­fer­ent party. As The Wash­ing­ton Post’s Aaron Blake re­por­ted, this is only a slightly high­er pro­por­tion of people than are mar­ried to someone of a dif­fer­ent race, ac­cord­ing to a sep­ar­ate 2015 Pew sur­vey.

That’s not all: More than half (55 per­cent) of Demo­crats say the Re­pub­lic­an Party makes them “afraid,” while 49 per­cent of Re­pub­lic­ans say the same about Demo­crats. Nearly half of re­spond­ents said dis­cuss­ing polit­ics with someone they dis­agree with is “stress­ful and frus­trat­ing.” This is the state of Amer­ic­an polit­ics in 2016.

What We're Following See More »
BELIEVED RESPONSIBLE FOR AGENTS’ DEATHS
Ex-CIA Officer Arrested for Assisting China
1 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"A former C.I.A. officer suspected of helping China identify the agency’s informants in that country has been arrested, the Justice Department said on Tuesday. Many of the informants were killed in a systematic dismantling of the C.I.A.’s spy network in China starting in 2010 that was one of the American government’s worst intelligence failures in recent years, several former intelligence officials have said. The arrest of the former agent, Jerry Chun Shing Lee, 53, capped an intense F.B.I. investigation that began around 2012 after the C.I.A. began losing its informants in China."

Source:
ZINKE REFUSED TO MEET WITH THEM
Park Service Panel Resigns En Masse
1 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"Three-quarters of the members of a federally chartered board advising the National Park Service abruptly quit Monday night out of frustration that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke had refused to meet with them or convene a single meeting last year. The resignation of nine out of 12 National Park System Advisory Board members leaves the federal government without a functioning body to designate national historic or natural landmarks. It also underscores the extent to which federal advisory bodies have become marginalized under the Trump administration."

Source:
WOULD ALSO DELAY OBAMACARE TAXES
GOP Leaders Dangle CHIP Fix to Avert Shutdown
10 hours ago
THE LATEST

"House GOP leaders on Tuesday night pitched a new strategy to avert a looming government shutdown that includes children's health funding and the delay of ObamaCare taxes. Lawmakers need to pass a short-term stopgap bill by midnight Friday, when money for the federal government runs out. The latest GOP plan would keep the government’s lights on through Feb. 16, and be coupled with a six-year extension of funding for the popular Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The continuing resolution or CR would also delay ObamaCare's medical device and Cadillac taxes for two years, and the health insurance tax for one year starting in 2019."

Source:
NO DACA DEAL = NO SPENDING DEAL?
With Deadline Approaching, Lawmakers Sounding Notes of Pessimism
14 hours ago
THE LATEST

"A key Senate negotiator and White House official on Tuesday expressed little hope for an immigration deal this week but nonetheless predicted that Congress can avoid a government shutdown." Marc Short, the White House Capitol Hill liaison, said he's optimistic about a deal on DACA overall, but not this week. Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn also said he doubts an agreement can be made before week's end.

Source:
WON’T SAY WHETHER NORWAY IS PREDOMINATELY WHITE
Nielsen Defends Trump Before Senate Judiciary
20 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Homeland Security Kristjen Nielsen confirmed that President Trump used 'tough language' in an Oval Office meeting last week over immigration policy, but she said she did not hear him describe some African countries and Haiti as 'shithole countries,' as has been reported." When pressed she, also said she "didn't know" whether Norway was a predominately white country.

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login