Lesson From the UK: It’s a Different Country!

After reading Newt Gingrich’s argument that the victory of the Tories in the UK last week was a vindication of a nasty message about welfare bums, I figured it was time throw some cold water on the idea that Republicans should look across the Atlantic for important “lessons.” So here’s how I described the most obvious “lesson” in my weekly column at TPMCafe:

Republicans should boast of their successful management of an economic recovery while attacking their opponent’s irresponsibility in office during the last decade and exploiting fears of a regional secession movement. Towards the end of the election cycle they should cannibalize the votes of their coalition partners and execute a surge to 36.9% of the electorate!

The UK elections don’t really supply much of a “teachable moment” unless you are looking for one, do they?

I went on to expand on my response to one of the actually interesting “lessons of Britain” pieces, by David Frum, in which I meditated on the importance to the GOP coalition of the “tipping point” theories he thinks are deadly to the party’s broader appeal. The heavy preponderance of both conservative evangelical Christians and libertarians in the U.S. conservative party as compared to others makes doom-saying about phenomena like Obamacare inevitable. And this is how you wind up with a relatively sane person like Mitt Romney yammering about the “47%” like every other Republican who “knows” we’re plunging towards serfdom or Hell.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.