On the very same day that voters in England decide on whether to exit the European Union, Donald Trump is in Scotland on a business junket. If this is a coincidence, it is a fortuitous one. Brexit is more about populism, immigration, and poor economic progress than it is about the failure of the Union. The vote seems to be an indicator of the rise of populism in Europe. Can the vote against the European Union by the people of England tell us anything about the election in the United States in November?
It is possible that despite the polls, voters may upset the system by taking a different path. Americans are just as frustrated as Europeans, even though our immigration problem is not nearly as acute, and our economy is strong despite a problem with underemployment, as we adjust to a new and different economic structure. Combined with a dismal view of government, it is a perfect time for the voters to upend the system.
Populism is sorely misunderstood by the party leaders on both sides. They cannot understand how Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders can be competing so strongly for voters across the nation . Worse, they are attempting to reign in these candidates, when common sense tells us that is the wrong course. It only makes the movement stronger.
The conventions are going to be where the power of these movements test the strength of a weakened party structure. Parties no longer control the voters like they did for over a century. For one thing, they don’t control the money. Citizens United and the rise of PAC politics have removed a lot of the controls that parties used to use, and overuse, to control their members. The fracturing of the Republican majority is a clear example; you don’t need to do what the majority whip tells you anymore.
Whether Nigel Farage, the voice of opposition to the European Union, realized that he was in control of a movement that would force such a dramatic move, is unclear. Is Donald Trump aware of the power he may have over the course of American politics? He may be aware now.