CNN’s Fareed Zakaria is afraid the United Kingdom’s general election could be a foreshadowing of what’s to come in the U.S. in 2020.
The “Fareed Zakaria GPS” host opined about the Conservative Party’s landslide victory and noted similarities between British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and President Donald Trump.
Zakaria gave his take on the “seismic British elections” which saw the conservative Tories rake in a huge victory with only a small increase in party votes. The Labour Party, on the other hand, experienced a “collapse of historic proportion,” Zakaria said, ending up with its fewest seats in 84 years.
He went on to point out the personality differences between its leader, the “dour, uncharismatic” Jeremy Corbyn and the “colorful and lively” Johnson.
Johnson’s election victory was due to two strategic decisions, Zakaria contended, explaining how he “simplified and clarified the election.”
The prime minister made the election a “referendum on Brexit, purging his party of moderates while calling on the public to “vote Tory to get Brexit done.”
“Labor’s position on Brexit was, by contrast, totally muddled,” Zakaria said.
“In politics, a simple, clear message will always trump a complex murky one,” he added. “Remember ‘Build the Wall?’ Three words.”
“Johnson’s second strategic decision was to shift the conservative party’s positions on economic policy,” Zakaria continued, noting how the leader won over the working class voters as he promised to increase government spending.
“That second bet worked spectacularly. The Conservatives won over large swaths of the working class, voters who might have shared the Tories’ skepticism about Europe but who could never vote for a party whose economic message was resolutely free market,” he explained. “In 2016, Trump similarly campaigned as an economic populist, embracing left wing positions on trade, Social Security, and Medicare. He was able to gain working class votes in Democratic states while keeping traditional Republican voters with him.”
“The Trump Republican Party is now a coalition of free market types and working class populists,” Zakaria noted.
Noting a common “vulnerability” that is shared by both Democrats in the U.S. and the UK’s Labour Party, the CNN host argued that the public remains supportive of the “existing positions” on issues while the politicians continue “lurching ever leftward.”
Democrats are “losing socially conservative working class voters in a number of crucial states and they’re doing little to address this vulnerability,” Zakaria said. “Democrats keep arguing over economic policy lurching ever leftward. But the public is largely supportive of the party’s existing positions on these issues.”
“The party’s Achilles heel is immigration,” Zakaria noted.
“Half of the Democratic candidates have said they want to decriminalize illegal border crossings and even more want to give undocumented immigrants free health care,” he said, adding that “large majorities of the country disagree with these policies.”
“And you can expect Trump to turn this into a wedge issue,” Zakaria predicted. “The irony, thus, is that the Republican Party, like the Tories, has become ideologically a bigger-tent party, while the Democrats, historically defined as a large coalition, are ideologically narrow on the issues that might well define the 2020 election.”
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